Sunday, June 5, 2011

On Our Shelves - June

Our theme this month is dinosaurs! Truth be told, James is neither here nor there when it comes to dinos, but I thought we'd give it a go anyway. We finished up our farm theme at the end of last week, so tomorrow is our first day with the dinosaurs.

Oh, btw, how many of you knew that the beloved Brontosaurus has been declared "scientifically redundant" and now has a slightly different appearance and goes by the new name, Apatosaurus?! I'm sure I'm the last to know about this. Sheesh, first Pluto is stripped of its planet status (I know, I know, it's a dwarf planet now... but still) and now I hear about the Bronto losing its place in the dino world. How will my inner child reconcile this information? Was my entire elementary education flawed?! :D

Ok, moving on...

Practical Life
Washing a Dinosaur. I think James will get a kick out of this, especially because it involves a cute little scrub brush.

Scooping Dinosaur Eggs. Ok, so this looks a bit like an Easter activity. You just have to imagine these are dinosaur eggs. :)

Folding. There are 2 sets of 3 different sized pieces of dinosaur material in this basket. James will fold them and match them by size.

Pin Poking. These sheets are from Montessori Print Shop. James will use the jumbo thumbtack to poke tiny holes all around the images thus separating the image from the background. We did this last fall and it was a favorite.

We'll also continue our Grace & Courtesy lessons in table manners.

Dinosaur Sensory Tub. What has made this tub a hit is the fact that it has water in it. Kids + water = guaranteed fun.

Mystery Bag. Inside the dinosaur bag are two sets of the same dinosaur. There's another set in the basket, which James will lay out on the mat and use as a guide for what he's feeling from inside the bag. There's no peeking with this activity - James has to really tune in to his sense of touch to determine which dinosaur he's feeling before he pulls it out of the bag. Of course this can be done with any number of objects and can be as simple or as complicated as you like. This activity is fun with toddlers and is great for teaching basic shapes.

Binomal Cube. This is a traditional Montessori material and you can read more about it here. I purchased our cube from Kid Advance.

Still on our shelves: Knobbed and Knobbless Cylinders, and The Pink Tower.

Dinosaur Bingo. I made this myself using clip art from abcteach. I'd share it as a PDF, but I believe the images are copyrighted.

Worksheets & Activity Book. Skills involved: dot-to-dot (by letters), tracing, and reading/following basic directions. I printed the sheets off from KidsSoup and abcteach.

Spelling. Same idea as last month only this time I'm using these magnetic numbers.

Books. I was astonished to find only 3 dinosaur books at our library. THREE. Which is just as well, I suppose, since we're only allowed to check out four at a time. The rest are from the local thrift shop.

Not sure if I'll do a poetry basket for this month as I cannot for the life of me find a decent poem about dinosaurs. Guess dinos aren't very poetical. :)

Reading. As if by magic, James can read just about anything now and very rarely has to sound anything out. In just a couple of months he went from sounding out basic three and four letter words to flat-out reading words with 5+ letters without hesitation. I couldn't tell you how this happened, it just did and I know I had very little to do with it. I guess something just sort of "clicked" with him. Anyway, because I'm still wary of how well he actually knows some of the reading "rules", I want to continue forward with the last bit of the green series. I also purchased some basic readers. I found this series at a local shop (Kit-N-Caboodle, for my fellow islanders). The stories aren't award winning by any means, but they get the job done and most importantly James LOVES reading them.

Still on our shelves: Green Sandpaper Phonograms and The Grammar Farm.

Measuring Dinosaurs. We did a similar activity in December when we measured strips of ribbon. James enjoys measuring things (seriously, anything with numbers - he loves it). He'll need to write his results on the index cards.

Understanding More & Less. Still working on this concept. It's interesting, James definitely understands what's more than something else, but when you ask him which is less, he freezes up. I thought maybe the use of the sections in the ice tray would help him to visualize the concept a bit better. He'll need to place the little ball next to the correct answer.

Addition with "Dinosaurs Bones". Aka popsicle sticks. :) Pretty straight-forward, for example I will lay out a set of 3 bones and a set of 5 bones and place the '+' sign in between them and the '=' sign after them and ask James to add them together and show me the sum with another set of bones from the cup.

Skip Counting. Like reading, James just sort of 'gets' skip counting. I started with counting by 2's and the next thing I knew he was counting by 5's and 10's all on his own. This activity is just to reinforce the concept visually. James will use these tiles (from our Hundred Board) and put them in numerical order by 5's up to 100.

Worksheets. Skills involved: dot-to-dot (by numbers), quantity matching, determining differences, and addition. Printed off from KidsSoup and abcteach.

Still on our shelves: Ladybug Math, Telling Time, and Sandpaper Numerals.

Science & Culture
Studying Africa, Tray 1: Places. As I've mentioned before, I've opted to remove certain aspects of our continent bags and put them on trays instead of just plopping the entire bag on the shelf. James (like most kids, I think) is more interested in an activity if he can see what it is. By putting a few items on a tray not only can he see what's available, he's also not bombarded with the full extent of materials inside of our continent bags.

Studying Africa, Tray 2: Animals. I must give a shout out to my good friend, Ann, who very sweetly gave us that beaded lizard, which is from South Africa. Not pictured, but also on these shelves are a few African flags. I always display the flags of whichever continent we're studying.

Dinosaur Cards. These are from Montessori Print Shop and they are great! I love the information cards - they have just the right amount of data on them. I only wish a few of the more common dinosaurs (Stegosaurus, Pterodactyl, Dimetrodon, Plesiosaurus, Brontosaurus - er, I mean Apatosaurus) were included in the sets.

Matching & "Feeding" Dinosaurs. This is a two part activity: James will match up the plastic dinosaurs to those on the cards and then use the information section to determine if they were plant eaters or meat eaters. The little bucket in the above photo has some leaves and little squares of red felt (i.e. meat) that James can "feed" to the appropriate dinosaur.

Build-a-Dino. Just like it sounds - the skeleton comes in a handful of pieces and you simply put it all together. Another local find (Daisy & Mac).

Excavating Dinosaurs. This photo is from a couple of summers ago when we did this same project. We'll be doing it again next week - it's a great outdoor activity for summer!

Art & Music
Composer of the Month: J.S. Bach. I often get 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. You can get the PDF here.

Buddha Board. I love this thing! I wrote a short post about it here. It's been a long while since we've used this and I think James will be really happy to see it again.

Coloring Pages. KidsSoup has a great dino set.

Scissor Practice. These strips are a bit different than usual - I used stickers, as I usually do, but this time I drew various kinds of lines in between the stickers. James is used to cutting straight across, so I think this will provide a bit of a challenge for him.

Stamping. I found this great Melissa & Doug set locally (People's) and I know it's going to be a hit with James.

Later this month we're going to try to make some dinosaur eggs. Fun!

Happy June, everyone!

~Thank you for your comments!~


Unknown said...

I'm shocked just last week I posted that our Unit Study this 2 weeks is Dinosaurs as well!!! We love doing US and when we do everything is on that topic - The same as you do your month topic!! Love all your ideas! I also printed several of the same things off from the montessori print shop -- We are taking the Dino cards and placing them on our world map to try to get an understanding on where they were located!!!!!!!! Love all your stuff!!!!!

April said...

Tyrannosaurus was a Beast is a great dinosaur poetry book by Jack Prelutsky. My three year old is all dinosaur all the time. :)

Sasha said...

I love your lessons! I especially like the work with writing numbers on the dry erase board with lines as well as the addition activity... Everything looks so inviting! Thanks for sharing. Sasha

Sasha said...

I love your lessons! I especially like the number writing work on the dry erase board with lines as well as the addition activity. Everything look so inviting! Thanks for sharing. Sasha

amy said...

Wait until you read the news about triceratops! We had a paleontologist statistician over a few months ago and this was his big news.

The girl who painted trees said...

Love it. I agree that James will love dino washing. Bear magically did that too with the reading a few months back. It was amazing to remember how hard she struggled with sounding out last year and how now she reads anything she can get her hands on.

Deb Chitwood said...

Great theme for summer fun and learning, Mari-Ann! I think a dinosaur unit is fun even for kids who aren't obsessed with dinosaurs. I love that you plan to do some work outdoors as well as indoors.

With all your awesome activities, isn't it funny that pin poking is so popular?! When I taught in Montessori schools, I was always fascinated by the amount of time the children spent with that activity!

I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now facebook page. Have a wonderful summer as you prepare for your new baby! :)

Anonymous said...

Love all of these activities!! I love the creativity you show with each theme specially given the restrictions you have on what you are able to get your hands on!

Leptir (NataĊĦa) said...

Great dino unit! Thanks for sharing Mari-Ann :-)

jojoebi-designs said...

We have the book Stomp, Chomp, Big Roars here come the dinosaurs, which is a book of dino poems/rhymes

and I have dino downloads


Eddie said...

We're on dinosaurs this month, too - thanks for some great ideas!

I especially love the "excavating" - sheer brilliance. :)

Mandy said...

If you can get your hands on a copy of Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian you won't be disappointed. It is a wonderful collection of dino poems that would work so well with all of your fun dinosaur activities!

Susie Chadwick said...

Your elementary school education was flawed (and everyone else's too). Did you see Brontosaurus was redundant in 1908? Pop culture is way behind.

Cyndi-ella said...

OMG...I'm impressed and overwhelmed all at the same time. You do so many cool, fun learning activities. Are these scattered out through the month? Your humbled fan, Cyndi;).

Mommy to the Princesses said...

Hi Mari-Ann! Hope you and your little girl are doing awesome! Just wanted to say that I am amazed by the Matching and Feeding Dino work that you have come up with. Wish I had as much patience and organization skills as you to come up with such creative trays! I love waiting for the beginning of every month to take a peak at your trays!

Olives and Pickles said...

Awesome are such good Mama!!
I am sure James will enjoy making them!

Ewa said...

Dear Mari-Ann
Your activities are so well thought off. You are a great source of inspiration. Thank you once again for sharing your passion and love for educating James ;-)
Warm Hugs

Deb Chitwood said...

I love all your continent bags - and the idea of only putting some of the materials out at a time! I just featured your continent bags and trays at

Lori said...

You are always such an inspiration! My boys have LOVED learning about dinosaurs. I'll have to add a couple more items from your great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

RockerMom said...

Man, forget Robbie... I want to play with the stuff on your shelves. LOL!

Okay, well... I guess Robbie could join me. :)

Karelessly in Love said...

Hello there

I'm so happy that I stumped into your timely post! I am going to be doing Dinosaurs for a fortnight my my 2.5 yo very soon.

A question though. From what I read of this post, it seems that you have done Dinosaurs with your boy before in the past. And now you are revisiting the theme again?

I ask because I've come up with a lot of activities for my girl, and I only some activities are going to be used once or twice and considering the time and effort I put into them, I was wondering if I could keep these great resources and revisit them when she's older.

Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas said...

how fun - we are doing Dinosaurs over the summer! A very fun topic with so much learning potential!

Wanted to invite you to link up ideas at my weekly linky party - would love to have you share some of your wonderful posts. It goes live Sat. night thru Monday



Counting Coconuts said...

Thanks very much for your comments and book suggestions! I only wish I could order from Amazon and get them here before the month's end.

@Amy: Oh my goodness - now the Triceratops... what's the world coming to?! lol

@Susie: 1908... now I feel *really* foolish for not knowing this information!

@Karelessly In Love: No, we've not done this theme before. The only thing that's a repeat is the excavating activity and I wager that's one of those things that we'll repeat again and again - it's so much fun for any age.
You asked about revisiting activities later. I think too often parents/teachers see that a child has mastered or nearly mastered a skill and so they move on. Personally, I like to leave it to my son to decide when he's ready to move away from a task. For example, while he can pour very well, he really enjoys the activity so I'm always trying to think of new ways to reinvent this basic work. Also, I think it's a good idea to revisit skill sets to reaffirm what the child knows. Sometimes there's the case of "if you don't use it you lose it". Lastly, I completely understand you when you say you put in a lot of work for something that's only used once or twice. That's when I tell myself it's the nature of the beast of homeschooling - we don't have an entire classroom of children to share the activities with and that's just how it is. In our case, I know these activities will get used by our next child, which is a comfort. Hope that answers your question!

Erin said...

I love these activities!!! I can't wait until we do a dino theme sometimes in the near future (hopefully!)

I didn't know that about brontosaurus, but I had noticed that it was oddly missing from most current dino books. I'm still sad about pluto too!

Kami said...

Such wonderful activities, both of my boys would love them. Just wanted to share this greater than less than dinosaur printable I made a long while back:
Thank you for always sharing your wonderful ideas!

Karelessly in Love said...

Thanks for the reply.

Actually I'm not so concerned about the skill as the theme. Say, if I have a set of upper/lower letter case matching puzzle that's printed to the theme of dinosaurs, do I get to reuse it next time?

Because once I move on to other themes, I have other themed upper/lower letter case matching puzzle and the dinosaur one would be 'abandoned'.

Is that the case? Or say, a Policeman lapbook. When will I get to revist that again, if I move on to other themes? How do I create the opportunity to use it again?

Sorry for the questions but I'm so new to homeschooling and this is one of my major fib.

Right now, this is my plan (and I don't know if it's a good one). I do intend to leave the magazine boxes in lower shelves (I used them to store each themed unit) and if my girl wants to, she can look and poke around into them and if she wants, she can take out anything to 'play' with.

Counting Coconuts said...

@Karelessly...: I guess it's up to you how you want to handle it. Like I said, that's the nature of the beast of homeschooling - we don't have an entire classroom of children to share the activities with. If it's a bother for you, then just create work that's non-themed to get more use out of it.

Anonymous said...

Awesome !!! beautiful all pics and nice activities . superb posting for shelves . thanks

Jen said...

AH-mazing! As always. :) Love the fabric for the folding activity and the pouch and NO I didn't know that about the Brontosauris. WTH?!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your posts about your activities, but I almost never comment. My 2 year old is a typical boy and loves trains and dinosaurs. I have already bookmarked your sensory tub for this summer!

But what made me comment was the Montessori Binomial Cube. I could not have told you that was something I did in my Montessori school 30 years ago, but when I saw it I remembered it! How funny.

Anonymous said...

Your amazing. Where do you get/order all your supplies/materials. I am just starting homeschooling for the first time... and I have no idea where to being. My daughter has been in Montessori for 2 years and so I want to keep that as a central part our homeschooling... CANADA

Deb Chitwood said...

I just featured your measuring dinosaurs photo and your post at


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