Wednesday, April 6, 2011

On Our Shelves - April

Our theme for this month is Spring! I was going to go with an Easter theme, like we did last year, but I wanted something that encompassed all of the lovely things that happen this time of year!

Practical Life
Flower arranging. This is a classic Montessori work. I wish we could use real flowers, but our two kitties would surely eat them (and then throw them up later. Yucko.).

Transferring eggs. I just love those eggs - they're so soft and colorful. I made them last year using the wet felting method. Easy and fun to do with kids!

Flipping Bean Bags. To do this work, James will space out each bag on a table top and then, using the spatula, flip over each bag. This is a great activity that focuses on wrist control. I saw this idea on The Wonder Years ages ago and it has finally made it onto our shelves. I made the bean bags quite a while ago and have been surprised at how well they've held up.

Wood Polishing. James so enjoyed our wood polishing activity from February that I thought he might like this version of it. I found these small wooden crosses at Michael's.

Planting Lavender. This will be an outdoor activity since it involves dirt and water. :) What you're looking at are just the dry elements - the dirt and watering will be added once we're outside. I'm hoping to post about this later on in the month.

Open & Close Basket. This is a bit different than usual in that I've included lots of the same container and James will add the "surprise" (little critters) to them. I remember last Easter James couldn't get enough of these eggs. Hoping he enjoys them just as much this year.

Tweezing Flowers. A great fine motor activity whereby James will tweeze and transfer the little flowers into and out of the ice cube tray.

Still on our shelves (and still very much used): Dressing Basket.

Spring Sensory Tub. I won't bother posting about our playdough as it's identical to last year's. :)

Coloring Geometric Patterns. This printable comes from Montessori Print Shop (NOT abcteach, as I originally wrote - sorry for any confusion!).

Butterfly Matching. I purchased these cards at our local teacher's supply store.

Geo Board. James loves this!

Still on our shelves: Knobbed & Knobless Cylinders.

Alphabet Eggs. These are also from last year. James has long known the alphabet and letter sounds, so I'm curious to see what he'll do with these. It may be that they get totally ignored, but I wanted to give them a fair shot since I took all that time to make them. :)

Books. I really just grabbed a hodgepodge of titles that related in some form or fashion to spring/gardening/growth/birthdays, etc.:
Polka Bats & Octopus Slacks by Calef Brown
Welcome to Sunny Patch by David Kirk
The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter
Arthur's Birthday by Marc Brown
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Mother Earth and Her Children by Sibylle Von Olfers
The Flower's Festival by Elsa Beskow
The Story of the Butterfly Children by Sibylle Von Olfers
Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
Grover's 10 Terrific Ways to Help Our Wonderful Earth by Anna Ross
The Seasons: Spring by Nuria Roca
Pelle's New Suit by Elsa Beskow

Tracing. A variety of worksheets from abcteach. I won (in a giveaway) that beautiful pencil case you see. It was handmade by the owner of this sweet Etsy shop.

Poetry Basket coming soon.

Butterfly Reader. James continues to read anything and everything and I believe he'll enjoy learning about butterflies in this booklet. This is just one of the goodies I found on Montessori Print Shop's deluxe CD-Rom (click here to enter my giveaway - hurry, it ends Friday, April 8th!). You can also purchase it separately here.

Still on our shelves: Green Language Series.

Counting Eggs. Another revival from last year and I suspect James will simply lay them out and name them off. James is REALLY into counting numbers in various languages. Don't ask how or why, it's just something he took upon himself and he's really amazing us with it. He can count to 10 (sometimes 20) in English, Spanish, French, German, and Chinese. Yesterday he asked me, "What other languages are there?", so we're starting to learn Italian now. :)

Skip Counting. James has skip counting by 2's down pat, so we're moving onto counting by 5's. This is just a simple activity I created using paper eggs (I cut them from a garland), egg cups (the kind you get with an egg dying kit), and popsicle sticks with little foam circles glued at the tops.

Spindle Box. And oldie but goodie. :) I like to rotate our materials and this particular one hasn't been on our shelves for a long while.

Still on our shelves: Number Rods, and Sandpaper Numerals.

Science & Culture
Three Part Flower Cards. Another lovely material from Montessori Print Shop.

Where Does It Come From? Cards. Also from MPS. I think James is really going to enjoy this work because he's forever asking me where does such and such a thing come from, what does it do, what's inside, etc.

We'll be doing some outdoor learning this month when we explore the nature reserve behind our house. We'll take samples and look them up online, we'll smell and perhaps taste some things, and then "document" our findings ala Sid the Science Kid. :)

Still on our shelves: Weather Discovery Tray (too much of a favorite to put away!), Family Nomenclature Cards, and aspects from our South America Continent Bag.

Art & Music
Composer of the Month: Debussy. Something about Claire de Lune just sings Spring to me!

Scissor Practice. I placed tiny Spring themed stickers on plain white strips of paper. James will need to cut in between the stickers. He did well with this the last time it was on our shelves, but extra practice never hurts!

Flower Rubbing. This silk flower (cut from a lei), showed up surprisingly well during my test run. I provided several sheets of paper for James since I know he'll end up rubbing the flower a couple of times and then switch to abstract drawing (LOVE his creations!).

Stamping. In the past I've given James just one stamp/stamp pad. I'm not sure why I did that, so this time I've provided lots of Spring themed stamps and a multicolored stamp pad from Melissa & Doug.

Cookie Cutter Painting. Lots of Spring themed cutters + lots of paint = lots of messy fun!

No art basket this month, but I do have a few crafty ideas in mind like this one. Oh and of course we'll do some of our family tradition Easter egg decorating, too!

Still on our shelves: Instrument Nomenclature Cards.

PS: Our calendar is full of balloons in honor of one special little boy's upcoming birthday! Happy Spring, everyone!

~Thank you for your comments!~


Miri said...

I hope you feel good...:)
It will be interesting to know how you introduce the composer of the month, and what activities you include in this introduction. Thanks!

Lulu said...

Wow- you go to so much effort and it is so wonderful to see the things you guys do together. You keep the shelves the same for the whole month? A monthly theme is nice but would be hard to think up enough activities but I guess you mix other stuff in as well.

Look forward to seeing the "crafty" things you do for your theme.

Don`t forget about Japanese for the counting- relatively easy to pronounce! That is great he is showing a keen interest.

My son is only 15.5 months old (and my other son is 3 months old today) so we are are awhile off doing the sorts of things you are doing now but I still love to follow along! I love your sensory bin- I haven`t made one before but am thinking I might try to do something over the next week for our "tot school" next week.

Dawn said...

What wonderful ideas. Your son will have so much fun.

Anonymous said...

Love all of the wonderful things you have on your shelves this month! I just started pulling together my theme for this month (yes I am a little behind). I am sure James is going to have blast learning with all of these :-)

Ness said...

What an inspiring range of activities. Thank you for listing them all. I have just created our very first sensory box for my son. It is an Easter themed box and contains the same coloured eggs as those in your Open and Close tray. There are so many different items in our sensory box but those little eggs are the big hit. My son loves them.

Theprincessandthetot said...

I am always impressed with your shelves! Heck, I think I want to come and do school at your house! I can tell it's going to be a fun and educational month!

phasejumper said...

Great activities! Love the puzzle. Going over to check out ABC teach-thanks for the ideas!

Stephanie said...

Wow! Such great ideas!!!! I love it! You are super creative! We are planning on getting outside more too. I am doing a nature swap if you are interested in checking it out! You are such an inspiration!
Thanks for sharing!

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I just love how you think about everything. James (and his future sibling) are so super lucky!

Olives and Pickles said...

Great activities! I am sure James will love them!

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you all for your kind comments!

@My Child's Diary: Right now there's little we do with our "composer of the month" - it's just a very simple introduction into various types of classical music. So, I put out a photo of the composer and upload that composer's music to my ipod and that's what we'll listen to during each school day for the entire month. Later we'll get into more details, but for now this is enough. :)

@Lulu: Yes, these things are for the entire month. Believe me, for one child, it's more than enough!! And don't forget, repetition is KEY - it's all about building upon experiences and mastering a skill.

@Stephanie: Your swap sounds like so much fun, and it's totally up my alley, but honestly I just wouldn't have time to put something like that together. :( Plus, Bermuda has some strict laws about what kinds of natural items can be exported/imported to/from the island. Thanks for thinking of us, though! :)

Susan-Chasing Marcus said...

What fabulous jobs Mari-Ann! I love looking at all of the things that you have put together for James.
I had to laugh about James liking foreign languages. Sophie told me yesterday that she wanted "azul fromage" or blue (spanish) and cheese (french).

♥♠☻☺♦♣○◘•@$hley said...

I love the shelves today:) I hope that you are still able to get some much needed rest for that little growing inside too:)

Terri said...

Wow - this is so incredible, beautiful and inspiring!

Unknown said...

i just discovered you tonight and i am so impressed with how creative you are with your themes. i love the sensory tub (even if it is not montessori) it is a great way for children to learn through their senses.

Jill Stanish said...

Love all your ideas. We are Elsa Beskow fans as well.

Miri said...

Thank you!
What we do also is listening to the music performance on YouTube or if it ballet or opera, I try to find even a few fragments of the same episode, to introduce different perspectives for the same music ...:)

medina family said...

Wonderful ideas!! I showed some of them to my six and seven year old and they even wanted to do them! Who am I kidding?.... I even want to do them.

Very motivating for me to get my act together and set some of these trays up.

Thank you for sharing them!!

Elle Belles Bows said...

So many great works!

Definitely going to try the flower rubbing! Have enough around here:-)


The Sunshine Crew said...

Lovely work! So colorful and interesting:)

Gigi said...

great ideas you have here

Ashlea said...

Very cool ideas, Mari-Ann. For the flower rubbing activity, are those little crayons? They are so neat! Where did you get them?

Steph B said...

I love all of these ideas. We have a lot of fun spring out too right now! One thing we are doing with our peg board is using our 3 part shape cards and my little one is creating the shapes with the elastics: ie: rhombus, quilateral triangle, pentagon etc...she is loving the challenge of it.

Deb Chitwood said...

Wonderful ideas as usual, Mari-Ann! It's always difficult to choose a favorite activity among all the great activities you have on your shelves each month! I featured your post at

Jennifer said...

As usual great stuff! I was inspired to make some felt eggs.

Deb Chitwood said...

I always love re-visiting your posts, Mari-Ann! I featured your spring sensory tub photo and your butterfly matching in my Montessori-Inspired Caterpillar-Butterfly Unit at


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