Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Continent Bags - South America

Here's what's inside:

Stickers and animals.

Postcards and pictures. Some of these postcards are OLD; they're from my cousin who sent them to me about 19 years ago!

Music and artwork.

Miscellaneous souvenirs. All of these things came from Peru and were purchased here. The little vicuna is sooo soft, the toucan is a whistle, and the little purse is hand embroidered.

Money and stamps. Both sets are from Google Images.

Flags from Bolivia (a shout-out to my cousin-in-law!) and Brazil.

I hope you've enjoyed this photo tour of our South America Continent Bag! You may also enjoy these other posts from my Continent Bag Series:
Our Continent Bags
Our Continent Bags - Storage
Our Continent Bags - North America
Our Continent Bags - Asia
Our Continent Bags - Europe
Our Continent Bags - Antarctica
Our Continent Bags - Africa
Our Continent Bags - Australia

Also check out my Continent Bags photo album on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

I'm linking this post up to The Preschool Corner and Montessori Monday.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Instrument Nomenclature Cards

Merry Christmas, Everyone!
This has been a very interesting year for me, filled with some real challenges and some real blessings. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in 2011!

I want to thank all of you for reading Counting Coconuts this year and for your amazing support through kind comments and emails. I wish I could give each and every one of you a hug, but since that's out of the question, I'd like to give you a little gift instead...
~Musical Instrument Nomenclature Cards~
Use this link to download:

I worked long and hard on these and while they're nowhere near perfect, I'm really pleased with them and I hope you will be, too! There are 52 instruments in total, most are common, but I tried to throw in a few lesser known instruments as well.

A fun activity with these cards would be to sort them into the following general categories:
::Wind instruments
::Brass instruments
::Percussion instruments
::String instruments

I'll be away from blogging for a handful of days while I celebrate Christmas with my loved ones. I hope all you have a warm and safe holiday!

As always, my ideas, printables and tutorials are for your personal use only. Please do not sell or offer them in a giveaway. If you want to share them please be sure to link back to my blog. Thank you and enjoy!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fun Winter Sandwiches

We've been having a lot of fun with our lunches this month by making these cute sandwiches...

I used wheat bread and peanut butter for the head and face, raisins for the eyes, a maraschino cherry for the nose, and celery for the antlers. Note: to make the celery curl, simply cut a thin slit along each side of the stalk, then immerse in cold water for 15 minutes or so.

I used white bread and smoked turkey for the body, mini chocolate chips for the eyes and mouth, a bit of carrot for the nose, a wheat thin for the hat, pretzels for the arms, and grape halves for the buttons.

Polar Bear
I used a honey wheat English muffin and veggie cream cheese for the head and face, egg halves for the ears, an apple slice for the snout, blueberries for the eyes, a grape half for the nose, and red peppers for the mouth.

Gingerbread Man
I used wheat bread and salami for the body, raisins for the eyes, a red pepper slice for the mouth and cheerios for the buttons.

Christmas Tree
I used a spinach wrap and melted mozzarella for the tree, pepper bits for the lights, a wheat thin for the trunk, and a slice of starfruit for the star.

I found these ideas in one of my Pre-K books and just modified them a bit to suit James' tastes. In most cases I used cookie cutters to create the shapes. I served additional veggies and fruits on the side, along with a warm cup of soup and a glass of milk. Whenever we make these we keep the crusts from the sandwiches and feed them to the birds while we wait at the ferry stop for Daddy to come home from work!

The best thing about these sandwiches is that James helped me make them, resulting in lots of smiles and giggles from both of us (and lots of Practical Life practice, too!). James loved these soooo much that I think I've now set a high bar for myself and will need to make lunch a more creative adventure going forward!!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Family Nomenclature Cards

I just wanted to share with you a fun Christmas gift I made for James.
Family Nomenclature Cards!

I decided to make these after reading this post from One Hook Wonder. I did something similar when we studied the letter U, but these new ones are much nicer and include more than just James' uncles. In fact, there are 28 family members in this deck and that still does not include all of our immediate family!

I made duplicates of each person so he can use these as a memory game or a matching activity. They'll also be great for reading practice and for James to learn our family tree. And since James rarely sees these folks, I can see us using these to refresh his memory the next time we travel to see them.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our Continent Bags - Africa

Moving right along with my tour of our Continent Bags... next up, Africa!

Here's what's inside:
Book, maps, and cards.

Recipes and three part cards.

Music and artwork. The CD to the left is Putumayo's World Playground, and the CD on the right is a collection of songs by Uganda native, Geoffrey Oryema. It's a beautiful CD with a lot of depth. The artwork is from Google images.

Animals, three part cards, and memory game. The game is something simple I whipped up by putting matching sets of safari stickers on note cards.

Various Egypt items. All of the figurines, with the exception of the Ankh, come from this Toob, as did the information strip to the far left. The pyramid is my husband's (no idea where he got it from). I'm excited about the Hieroglyphic sheets (found on Google images) - I think James is going to love using the translator to read them.

Money, stamps, and stamper.

Miscellaneous souvenirs. The djembe and the bracelet were found at a local fair trade store, the necklace is made of paper beads by women in Uganda. The little thumb piano is from here and the pencil box is something I bought at Pier One almost 20 years ago!

Flags from Ghana, Madagascar, and Egypt.

I hope you've enjoyed this photo tour of our Africa Continent Bag! You may also enjoy these other posts from my Continent Bag Series:
Our Continent Bags
Our Continent Bags - Storage
Our Continent Bags - North America
Our Continent Bags - Asia
Our Continent Bags - Antarctica
Our Continent Bags - Europe
Our Continent Bags - South America
Our Continent Bags - Australia

Also check out my Continent Bags photo album on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

I'm linking this post up to The Preschool Corner and Montessori Monday.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dressing Basket

I have to be honest, I'm not a fan of dressing frames. In theory I think they are a fine idea, but in practice I think they are awkward, cumbersome, and frankly, not very practical. I purchased some, but I wasn't at all impressed. I had to fix and adjust them just so they'd be usable. {I'm sure this is because I went the cheap-o route and ordered them from a discount Montessori supplier, but these are something I just couldn't justify spending a lot of money on.} Anyway, the bigger issue is that James avoids them like the plague. And while we do practice these skills in everyday life using whatever thing we come across, I knew I needed to come up with another method for him to practice these skills in the classroom.

I've had this idea in the back of my mind for a while now and I finally got around to putting it together. I thought, why not gather a variety of clothing that represents each of the dressing components? Surely James would find this more appealing than a rigid board and isn't this a bit truer to life?

I tried to use most of James' clothes, but had to bend for the hook and eye and I used one of my own sweaters. Inside the basket there's an article of clothing for each of the following fasteners:

::Hook & Eye

Another is safety pins, but I'm going to hold off on that one for a bit longer.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December Poem PDF

I've had quite a few requests for a copy of my December poem from our poetry basket and I'm happy to share it. Here's the link for the PDF:

I simply printed this with a color printer, used a marker to dot under each word (this makes it easier for the child to read along) and then I laminated it. I also created a little "reading stick" (a popsicle stick with a googly eye at the top) that James uses to follow along with the poem.

As always, my printables are for your personal use only - please do not sell or offer them in a giveaway. Thank you!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Our Continent Bags - Europe

I love to travel and it was one of the things I made a point of doing a lot of before I had children. Europe is a beautiful continent rich in history and culture and I feel blessed to have visited it a number of times.
And, being the pack rat collector I am, I have quite a bit of European memorabilia and souvenirs as a result. I also have a very bad habit of getting overly nostalgic from time to time, so bear with me while I recall exactly where I found some of these goodies. :)

Here's what's inside:
Book, maps, and cards.

Stickers. Lots of stickers! I purchased these for my Europe scrapbook pages (btw, let me know if any of you are interested in seeing these pages - I'm happy to share them!), but I didn't end up using them all. Most were purchased at places like Archiver's and Michael's, but the four at the bottom left are from the various countries I visited.

Miscellaneous souvenirs. I just love that linen doily, which I purchased from a little old lady at a tiny shop in Limerick, Ireland. The two ornaments on the doily are from a beautiful Christmas shop in Rothenberg, Germany (one says "Ich Bringe Gluck", which means "I bring luck"). The Pinocchio ornament is from a shop in the Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy, and the wooden boy is from this German toymaker. The little Eiffel Tower is, obviously, from Paris, France. The Matryoshka nesting dolls are from a Russian store in the US and are a gift from my wonderful sister in law. I have yet to paint them and I'll be sure to post about them when they're finished.

Pieces of Europe. I think these items are some of my most favorite possessions. The pouch on the left contains Edelweiss seeds, which I purchased in Salzburg, Austria. I am a HUGE fan of The Sound of Music and the song, Edelweiss. The sand inside that little bottle is from Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. For those unfamiliar, Omaha Beach is the same beach the US Army stormed in World War II. While we were visiting France, my very patriotic husband made a special trip there to pay his respects to our fallen soldiers. The chunk of rock at the top right is an actual piece of the Berlin Wall. I remember standing under the Eiffel Tower and reaching down to grab a handful of pebbles - they are the same you see in the bag on the far right. Funny thing, there's a small rusted nut included in that bag... I wonder if it fell from the Tower? The multi-colored stone is a wishing stone from Galway, Ireland, and that little bit of rubble in the tiny bag is a piece of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, extracted by yours truly! :) I have a few larger souvenirs, such as a beautiful beer stein purchased during a fun excursion to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, and I'll be showing them to James when the time comes.

Music and artwork. We are a family of music lovers and have always had a wide variety of music in our home. The Spanish Guitar music was one of the first CDs I ever purchased and the other CDs are all a part of the brilliant collection of children's music by Putumayo. I found the art work on Google images.

Postcards. As I mentioned before, I've been collecting postcards since I was a young girl. This selection is just a small sampling of them. Some of these are from friends and family, others are from my travels.

Special mail. The unique Romanian postcard to the left was sent to us by a lovely blog friend, Ramona - James loves this postcard and spent the first few days of its arrival carrying it around with him. The colorful painting at the top was sent to us from a sweet little boy in Spain as a part of our International Postcard Exchange. Ditto with the letter, which is from a boy in Wales and is written in his own adorable script.

Spoons, patches, and pins. More of my spoon collection and a few patches and pins from one of my most memorable experiences - a backpacking trip through Europe with my best friend. We traveled through Europe with literally just a backpack and we had plans to adorn our packs with patches and pins from each of the countries we visited. Somewhere along the line we lost interest in the idea, though, and these are all that remain from our big plan. :)

Various emphera and a book. A ticket from a visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, Germany, a bag from a gift shop in The Netherlands, a map from my trip up the Jungfrau in Switzerland, a newspaper from Munich, and a small bag from a shop in Paris. The book is a gift from my sister in law who used to live in Germany. It's the Grimm Brother's tale of The Bremen Musicians and is written entirely in German. I studied German for years and could just about speak and read it fluently. Of course it's one of those "use it or lose it" situations and I now struggle to translate even a simple sentence.

Three part cards and animals. Yes, there are just two measly dogs representing our collection of European animals. I think Safari Ltd. needs to make a Toob for each continent!

Brochures, photos, pictures, and three part cards. The cards and pictures come from here and the brochures were collected by me as I traveled. I have quite a few photos from my travels and, when the time comes for us to explore our Europe bag, I'll pull them out and share them with James. This particular photo - the one in the upper left hand corner - is of me on the very dark and narrow staircase within the Blarney Castle in Ireland. For some reason, James really likes this photo, so I thought I'd include it.

Money, stamps, and stampers. The coins and some of the stamps are real, but most of the items in this photo are images I found on Google and then printed and laminated. The 1000 Lire bill above has an image of Maria Montessori on it! Unfortunately, my stash of European currency (some date from before the Euro was introduced) and stamps are not here in Bermuda with me. The stampers will make for a fun activity when we explore this continent.

Recipes and three part cards. This book is great and has a good variety of recipes from around the world. About a month ago, on my Facebook page, I asked if anyone wanted to share an authentic recipe from their country and a few of you were kind enough to send some to me - thank you so much! If anyone else would like to share, please email me at countingcoconuts1(at)gmail(dot)com.

Flags from Ireland, Russia, Germany, and England.

I hope you've enjoyed this photo tour of our Europe Continent Bag! You might also enjoy these other posts from my Continent Bag Series:
Our Continent Bags
Our Continent Bags - Storage
Our Continent Bags - North America
Our Continent Bags - Asia
Our Continent Bags - Antarctica
Our Continent Bags - Africa
Our Continent Bags - South America
Our Continent Bags - Australia

Also check out my Continent Bags photo album on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

I'm linking this post up to The Preschool Corner and Montessori Monday.

~Thank you for your comments!~

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December Discovery Tray

For our December Discovery Tray, I tried to find real items that represent the winter season. Not an easy thing to do when you live on a sub-tropical island! I found a pine tree branch, a pine scented wax candle, cranberries, cinnamon sticks and pine cones. The magnifying glass is a mainstay in all of our discovery trays.

One thing I really wanted to do was to get two branches of pine needles and put one of them in a vase with water. I thought it'd be interesting for James to see the difference in the branch that's fed with water and the one that's drying out. But, since we use the same artificial tree each year, I had to beg one of the local Christmas tree salesmen for a snippet of one of his trees. He was less than willing and I thought I'd be pressing my luck to ask for two samples!

~Thank you for your comments!~

Thursday, December 9, 2010

December Poetry Basket

Ever since I read about the poetry basket My Montessori Journey created for her classroom, I knew it was something we needed to add to our school time. I'm an avid poetry reader and have been reading verses to James since he was in my tummy. :) I didn't have a chance to add this to my recent On Our Shelves post, but I wanted to share it with you all.

The little candle is battery operated and lights up. James anxiously waits for the point in the poem when he can flip the switch to make the candle glow!

There are loads of resources online for poems for any occasion, but I have to admit, I struggle each month to find just the right poem. I need for it to be somewhat short in length, meaningful in content and, ideally, offering some new vocabulary. The biggest challenge is finding a poem that has aspects which I can represent in a tactile form.

Click here and here to see our October and November poetry baskets.

UPDATE TO ADD: After numerous requests, I created a printable copy of this poem for your personal use - click here for the link. :)

~Thank you for your comments!~

Monday, December 6, 2010

On Our Shelves - December

Our theme for December is, of course, Christmas. I just love this time of year and I really enjoy bringing the feel of the season into our classroom. There's red and green everywhere you look! :)

Practical Life
Christmas Tree Decorating. We did this last year, too, and it was a big hit.

Tweezing Mini Bows. These little bows were a part of the amazing box of goodies I received last year.

Sorting Erasers. Another favorite from last year.

Tonging Porcupine Poms. I chose yellow poms because I thought they looked sort of like stars against the trees. :)

Open & Close Basket. Each container has a fun, chunky Christmas eraser in it.

Button Tree. This is the tree I made last year and even though James has the buttoning thing down pat, he's still loving this little tree.

Lacing Jingle Bells.

Spooning Sparkly Poms. As I've mentioned before, James has little interest in spooning, but I couldn't resist trying this variation with a melon baller. The idea comes from My Montessori Journey. I think he'll enjoy this.

Using A Dropper. James will transfer the green water from the glass by way of the dropper and then release the water in small amounts into each individual suction cup. The washcloth is provided so he can wipe up any spills. We've done this in the past and James just loves it.

Stringing Pony Beads. I saw this idea ages ago on Itty Bitty Love. The pipe cleaners (aka chenille sticks) are pushed into the holes on the top of a small shaker. Fun and simple!

Christmas Nesting Blocks. Sort of a pink tower minus the pink. :)

Sound Boxes. I purchased these from here, but you can easily create your own. Click here to read more about how to use the sound boxes.

Knobless Cylinders w/ Extensions.

Blue Series Materials. James is definitely in a sensitive period for language and I have to admit, I'm not as prepared as I'd like to be. He's just moving through everything so quickly, I can't keep up! I think he'll be finished with the blue series by the end of the month since this particular work was easy-peasy for him. The thing is, he's kind of all over the place with what he knows and I feel compelled to push through everything in the right order regardless in an effort to seal up any gaps in his knowledge. For those unfamiliar with the blue series, you can read more about it here. The materials were purchased through Montessori For Everyone (love her materials!).

Christmas Memory Game. To make these I printed duplicates of two different bingo cards from abcteach.

Various Tracing Pages. Some of these came from KidsSoup and others from the wonderful Nativity Preschool Pack from 1+1+1=1. The Santa pencil provides an added point of interest.

Books. Throughout the month we'll be reading a new Christmas book each day, thanks to our 25 Books of Christmas.

Christmas Tree Lights Game. James loves adding and subtracting and he really enjoyed using these little bulbs as well as the jumbo dice. The bulbs are real and were cut from a strand of lights that was no longer working.

Measuring Ribbon. James selected this shiny silver ribbon and I cut several pieces in varying lengths. James will measure them against the ruler and then we'll record our findings.

Math Sheet. This is a page from the 1+1+1=1 Nativity Pack.

Hundreds Board. We just received this and used it for the first time today. James L-O-V-E-D it!

It took him a long time to complete it (and he did get a bit distracted toward the middle, complaining with a sigh that this was hard work and that his back hurt! LOL), but he finished it entirely by himself and was oh so proud!

Cards & Counters. I made these cards myself and chose red buttons (think berries :D) for the counters.

Culture & Science
North America Continent Bag. I decided to pull out various pieces from the bag and place them on trays instead of just plopping the entire bag on the shelf. I think this will work better for us because it'll allow us to focus on just a few of the items at a time.

Poinsettia Three Part Cards. I found these beautiful cards on abcteach and I purchased a real Poinsettia plant so James could have a living visual guide as well.

Living & Non-Living Cards. My three part card envelopes didn't work for these cards, so I stitched up a little pouch out of felt. Very easy to make and I find the appearance to be much nicer than plastic.

Art & Music
Composer of the month. This month we're focusing on Tchaikovsky. I timed this to coincide with his well known Nutcracker Suite which, I feel, so beautifully represents this time of year.

We're also singing LOTS of fun Christmas songs, a compilation of which can be found here.

Stamping. I found this little kit at the dollar store.

Build A Santa & Christmas Tree. These are our "Felt Friends" from last year. Instead of separating the two as I did last year, I put all the pieces together for an added challenge.

Scissor Practice. Like last month, I cut strips of paper and then placed Christmas stickers on them which James will use as a guide to cut in between.

Color By Letter. This page is from KidsSoup.

I have quite a few other Christmas-y crafts in mind for us to do and I'll try to post about as we complete them. Just not enough hours in the day!

Click here, here and here to see some of the activities we did last year when James was 2.5 years old.

I'm linking this post up to The Preschool Corner and Montessori Monday.

~Thank you for your comments!~


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