Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On Our Shelves - May

Last year, in April and May, we focused on a rainbow theme, which I think is perfect for spring. But, this year I decided to do a unit on farms. I'm excited about it because I've always had a soft spot in my heart for farms/farming, despite the fact that I grew up in the city. When I was young, I used to pretend I lived on a farm and I make my poor cat play the role of a variety of animals. :) Something about all those lovely stinky animals and living a sustainable life has always appealed to me. My husband grew up on a farm and I know that fact was one of many reasons why I fell in love with him. But I digress... :)

Here's what's on our shelves. You'll notice there are not as many activities as usual. Now that the weather is nicer, we're spending more time out of doors and so our school week has been reduced to 3 mornings per week.

Practical Life
Pouring Milk. Oops, I see I forgot to photograph the sponge that accompanies this work (for spills). And that isn't really milk in those cute little milk bottles, it's just water and white paint. :) This work is great not just for concentration and a steady hand, but also for learning about the concepts of more/less, half/full/empty.

Tweezing Apples. The fun thing about this activity is that the apples (found at Michael's craft store) make a nice "tinking" sound when the enter the glass jar. The fact that the opening of the jar is a bit small means James needs to be more careful when transferring. After a successful round of tweezing, we played a game where we stood above the jar, aimed the apples over the opening, and tried to drop them directly into the jar. Not as easy as it sounds!

Measuring Scratch Feed. I suppose this doubles as a math activity, too! This is the same scratch feed I used in this month's sensory tub.

We also plan on making butter again and visiting one of the local farms.

Still on our shelves: Flower Arranging.


Playdough - I'll be sharing about that later this month as it'll follow a different theme.

Still on our shelves: Knobbed and Knobless Cylinders, The Pink Tower, Butterfly Matching.

Spelling. This is a good example of how you can mix and match toys/office supplies to create a learning activity. The magnetic animal pieces are from an old puzzle, and the dry-erase board was something I found at Office Max a couple of years ago.

Worksheets. These are a variety of sheets (from abcteach and KidsSoup) dealing with tracing, word matching, and handwriting. I have mixed feelings when it comes to worksheets. On the one hand I know they're not very Montessori, and I have to admit I do prefer more tactile ways of learning, but on the other hand I cannot deny that worksheets are very useful, too. I'm starting to incorporate them more into our learning because my husband is always eager to see what James has learned in school.

Old MacDonald Storyboard. This felt set and the board both come from the lovely shop, Storytelling Fun.

Magnetic Storybook.

Books. A reader recently asked me about our book collection and whether I buy all of our books. The answer is yes I do and I almost always purchase them second hand. Our local library has a limited selection and only allows us to borrow 3 books at a time (I hear you can borrow as many as 50 at a time in the States! That blows my mind!). Some of the books, like the Farmer Grover book seen above, are my own from when I was a child.

Poetry Basket. Click here to download the poem. To see/read more about our poetry baskets, click here.

Farm Activity Book. This is a "green" (i.e. recycled) book full of stickers, worksheets, and activities. We do one or two sheets a day.

Still on our shelves: Green Sandpaper Phonograms

Feed the Chickens. This game comes from PreKinders. We used corn kernels as the counters.

Roll A Farm. I found this cute game in this fantastic download - be sure to check it out, it's full of really cute farm printables.

Worksheets. A variety of sheets focusing on skip counting, quantity matching, and dot to dot. Again, all are from either abcteach or KidSoup.

Telling Time. I purchased this clock at our local teacher's supply store. I made the number cards myself.

Still on our shelves: Sandpaper Numerals, Ladybug Math, and Seed Graphing (a favorite!)

Science & Culture
Parts of a Horse. These are from Montessori Print Shop.

Matching Adult & Baby Animals. Click here to download these cards.

South America Continent Bag. This particular portion of our bag focuses on just the animals of South America.

Where Does It Come From? Another great printable from Montessori Print Shop. We had this on our shelves last month and James really enjoyed it. For this month, I only included the sets that related to farm animals.

Still on our shelves: Continent Globe & Puzzle.

Art & Music
Composer of the Month: Chopin. A reader recently asked what exactly we do with our COM. Right now I'm keeping it really simple - I download that composer's music onto my iPod and we listen to those songs during our schooltime for the entire month. I also print out a photo of the composer. At some point we'll likely spend more time learning about the composer and the style of music, but for now it's just not something James is interested in.

Circle Time Songs. Each month I search the internet for fun and simple songs for us to sing during our circle times. Click here to download our songs.

Tractor Painting. Just like it sounds. Toss some paint on a big sheet of paper and drive a tractor through it. Good fun! I love experimenting with different painting tools.

Scissor Practice. I made these strips a bit wider than I usually do so James will have to use two or three cuts in order to sever the paper.

Still on our shelves: Flower Rubbing.

That's all for now. I have a few more activities which I'll post about separately throughout the month.

Happy May!

~Thank you for your comments!~


Gidget Girl Reading said...

awesome shelves! you put a lot of work into them.

are you sitting down because this will really make you go wow! our library lets us borrow 200 at a time :)

Tricia said...

All I can say is "Wow!" You are so creative and amazing! I am always so inspired by your ideas. Thank you for always sharing them.

Anonymous said...

Love this theme! I am a country girl at heart and wish I grew up on a farm too! Great job with the activities!

Elle Belles Bows said...

Wonderful activities! My favorite is the milk pouring activity! Hope you are feeling well. Take care, Kerri

Bridgett said...

Hi. I came across your blog on 1+1+1=1. I'm loving all your links & tray ideas! I'll probably be on your blog for awhile. :)

XYZZ said...

Looks like it will definately be a month full of fun! You should post this over on my Montessori Monday. ;)

Alisa said...

I just love your milk pouring activity! Great idea! I think that will be on our shelves next month :0)

Alison @ Educational Creations said...

Wonderful! Feeling inspired now :)

Mommy to the Princesses said...

I always look forward every month to take a peak at the shelves! Love the farm theme this month!

Unknown said...

I love them all!! You're so creative!!

Karen said...

Absolutley beautiful!!! Great jobs!!! I love them all!!! Thanks sweety!!! Big Hugs!!

daisydées said...

wow!!! i don't speak english ...
but i love what you do. It's very inspiring!
Thank you so much.

Kory said...

I have to admit, I read 'farm theme' and instantly thought 'no fun'... but a lot of these activities look awesome!

I can't believe you can only borrow three books! I don't think there's a limit at ours... at least, I've never hit it! Plus each kid can have their own card (starting at birth, lol) so things there are a limit on (like CDs) you can check out on your card and theirs!

Debbie said...

Next year Gabriela will have a farm theme, so I'm looking forward to using some of these great ideas. Thanks for sharing! You always put your activities together so beautifully!

Lori said...

You've been BUSY! I love what you have out on your shelves right now. There are a lot of really great ideas. I also have some farm animal family cards that my boys have really been enjoying. The cards have the dad, mom and baby. You can see them here:

Love your blog! I'm so grateful for all you share.

Kylie said...

Fantastic, I love farm activities too. I was wondering if you have been sahring the pdf's to your calendar numbers?

Mrs. Whary said...

I am loving all of these ideas - I have had so much nspiration from you this last year! Thanks so much for the link :-)

Deb Chitwood said...

So many great ideas, as usual, Mari-Ann! I grew up on a farm, so this is a theme close to my heart. I think the milk pouring is my favorite activity. But I love the way you also creatively prepare materials you purchased (for example, adding the number cards to the clock you purchased). Deb @

Maureensk said...

This is weird, I am doing a farm theme this month also. I'm not nearly as organized as you though. Thanks for all of the wonderful ideas!

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you all for your very kind comments and feedback!

@Butterfly Wishes...: WOW! 200?! You could create your OWN library with that amount!

@Kylie: No, I haven't shared PDFs for my calendar inserts and I likely won't. Although I make them myself, I get the photos from a website I'm a member of and I'm sure there'd be some copyright issue. Also, I personalize our calendar quite often to reflect birthdays or visitors we have coming that month. :)

Corrie said...

Can you show a picture of what your shelves look like with the baskets on them? How big/tall are they? How many shelves? Etc.

Jess said...

Gosh! I am always so inspired when I visit your blog. You are so creative and also so generous for sharing your ideas. Thank you. I can t wait to incorporate them. So wonderful. Thank you thank you!
ps Cant believe you can only borrow 3 books! Outrageous. We can borrow 30 and as we have two library cards often have 50-60 out at a time. Realise how very lucky we are.

Jen said...

One word: LOVE. Love all you've put together, love that you share it with us, love that you love james enough to do all this!!!

Deb Chitwood said...

I hope you're having a fabulous time with your family, Mari-Ann! I featured your photo of the Feed the Chickens activity tray along with your printables page at


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