Sunday, July 17, 2011

On Our Shelves - July & August

This is my last "On Our Shelves" post for a few months. The baby is due is just 5 weeks (!) and I'm now shifting my focus toward preparing for her arrival.

Our theme is summer. Keeping the theme broad like this really allowed me to put pretty much anything on our shelves, so long as it looked summery! :) As always, there are a few activities that aren't theme related. Click here and here to see what was on our shelves last summer.

Practical Life
Water Transfer. When James is ready to do this work he'll need to fill the bowl of little sponges with a bit of water. Then he'll place one sponge square into the garlic press and squeeze the water into one section of the ice cube tray. Oops - I now realize I need to add another bowl to the tray for the squeezed sponge squares. To remove the water from the ice tray, James will simply put the squeezed sponges back into the section to absorb the water and then transfer them back to the bowl.

Pencil Sharpening.

Pouring Sand. This is sand from one of our local beaches. I added a funnel to make this work a little more exciting. :) The bottle on the left is in a basket to keep it from falling off of the tray. James is really careful about transporting his work to the rug or table, but this tray just isn't that great.

Paper Punching. This is something new for us and I think James will really like it. The blue container (from Mexico) holds small paper squares of various colors, textures and weight. The silver container will hold the punches.

Tweezing & Transferring. We've done something similar to this several times before, so this is nothing really new, but I know James will enjoy it. The mason jar is what I think he will find most interesting - there are two parts to the lid and they have to go on in a certain way in order for them to fit properly.

Sensory Tubs. We have two available right now: Pond & Transportation

Sandy Playdough. Same as last year. :)

Creating Polygons. These colored popsicle sticks have been used for so many activities in our classroom! I printed out this chart from the internet and James will use it as a guide to create some basic polygons. I provided a control of error by using a single color for each polygon.

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

Poetry Basket. I found this poem online and modified it a bit. I needled-felted the water and grass, and knitted the little fruits in the basket.

Summer Bingo. I made this myself using graphics from here. The small bingo cards are in the little box, and the colored shells will be used as card markers. (Btw, I did not color the shells - I found a bag of them at our local thrift store.)

Sequencing. These stars are filled with water (meant to be reusable ice cubes). We'll use them to create various patterns.

Tracing. James finds worksheets a bit boring, so I try to liven this kind of work up by adding fun writing utensils to the tray. You'd be surprised how often this works to entice him. These printables came from abcteach. (Btw, since a few people have asked, yes I do have a membership to this site and yes I do find it well worth the price - I use it quite often).

Moveable Alphabet. I collected a bunch of images from Google and made these cards to accompany our moveable alphabet. James will spell out the name of image. In the case of the card shown in the photo, he can opt to spell either 'shovel' or 'pail'.

Memory Game. This is one from last year when we focused on Independence Day.

Books. On The Seashore by Anna Millbourne, The Sun Egg by Elsa Beskow, Bermuda 123 by Dana Cooper, Summer (Series) by Nuria Roca, America a Patriotic Primer by Lynne Cheney, L is for Liberty by Wendy Cheyette Lewison, Coral Reef by Marcus Phister, The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller, Swimmy by Leo Lionni.

Still on our shelves: Dry Erase Spelling, and the Grammar Farm.

Buying Water Balloons. Put on your creative hat, go into the dollar store and you'll be amazed at what you turn into a learning activity! In the past, I would have made a simple sorting/matching activity with these balloons, but since that's a bit old hat for James, I decided to go this route instead. James will need to "buy" these balloons for a penny a piece/25 cents for the lot. I provided various coins that equal that amount and it'll be up to him to decide which combination of coins to use. This activity falls in line with our recent Money Matters lesson.

Cards & Counters. It's true we're a bit past this kind of work, too, but if I've said it once I've said it a million times - repetition is a good thing. Plus, I have a bazillion of these fruit counters and I've been dying to use them. :) I bought them at a garage sale a few months ago, but I think you can buy them from Lakeshore Learning.

Less Than/More Than/Equal To. I chose sea glass for this work and I think James will really like the look and feel of it. The less than/more than/equal symbols come from this magnetic set.

Lego Math. You can read more about this here.

Skip Counting. I made these bead bars out of pipe cleaners and pony beds. Super easy. The tiles come from our Hundreds Board.

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

Science & Culture
Discovery Tray. It's been a while since I created a discovery tray for our shelves. This one is full of ocean treasures - shells, coral, sea glass, and bits of pottery washed up after a hurricane a couple of years ago.

Examining Sand. My husband found the idea for this activity here. We'll put some sand on the white paper and make note of what colors and particles we see. We'll do the same with the black paper and see if we notice anything different. We'll use the jumbo magnet to see if any iron-rich minerals stick to it. We'll also talk about why Bermuda sand is pink!

Still on our shelves: (Parts of) the Africa Continent Bag.

Water Experiments - coming soon!

Art & Music
Composer of the Month: Verdi. 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.

Coloring Book. I printed this mini coloring book from abcteach.

Circle Time Songs. I can make these available, just let me know if you're interested.

Line Art. The idea here is simple - James can use the ruler to create lines in various lengths and angles. He can color the shapes in if he wishes to.

Happy summer!

~Thank you for your comments!~


Unknown said...

How do u find the time to put all this wonderful ideas together?? I'm just starting our homeschooling journey and your blog is amazing thanks for sharing! I can't wait to share your ideas with my children! Cheers Sue

LeeanneA said...

What a wonderful list of activities - fun - creative and attractive to children. Although some involve really small pieces and my toddler class cannot use them, I can certainly find other items and adapt what you have shared - thank you!

Linda said...

This is all so lovely, thank you for sharing:) Hope you are well and wishing you all the best for your birth.

Sippy Cup Central said...

I love the polygon work, good job. So excited to hear you baby news. Karen

Sippy Cup Central said...

Do you have a PDF of the polygon sheet, or can you point me in the direction of where you found it? Karen

ltschaepe said...

I really like all of your ideas! Would you share your circle time songs? Thank you!

Olives and Pickles said...

Great Activities. I did the hole puncher activity last month with C and it was fun!

Cyndi-ella said...

I would love the circle time songs. Do you have-- somewhere on your blog--a schedule of your daily/weekly activities? I'm remained amazed at all you do!

Förskoleburken said...

Lovely! I especially love the lego math and polygons! Thanks as always!

Counting Coconuts said...

Thank you all for your kind comments! I'll make the circle time songs available soon.

@Cyndi-ella: I wrote a couple of posts about our daily rhythm and school routine. Have a look at the sidebar on my blog and you'll find it there.

kateks said...

Thank you so much for sharing all of your amazing activities and reminding me that the best activities are creative activities made from inexpensive things around the house, not expensive kits or munipulatives (a constant struggle of mine). I'm so inspired!

jaem said...

Where did you find your curvy Waldorf frame? (We can't seem to find them anywhere!) As always, you give so many ideas and inspiration. I've been working with my three-year old while we're off in the summer, and she has enjoyed the activities a lot.

La Dolce Vita: The Sweet Life said...

I am so grateful for your ideas, and the way in which you share them. I'll be trying out several of them. Lovely!

Weena said...

All so wonderful! You're such an inspiration. I made some of my activities too
And one like your Counting Coconuts game.
I'll share this blog on my FB page too
because most of my fans and colleagues make lots of manipulatives too.
Thank you for sharing!

Jennifer Williams said...

I really like the polygon activity.... very simple and effective.... thanks for sharing!
Jenni x

Rebecca said...

Love the transportation bin and the discovery tray!!

Maureensk said...

Love all of your ideas! Particularly thanks for the sand playdough recipe! Good luck with the end of your pregnancy. These last weeks can be uncomfortable, so hopefully you're able to get plenty of rest (if you need it - during one of my pregnancies, I felt so great, I never wanted it to end).

Nicolette said...

These are all great. I especially like the one with the garlic press. Genius! BTW: I pinned these :)

Diary of a Homeschool Mom said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE All of your stuff and plan to use a ton of it this coming year! Wonderful Wonderful stuff! You should publish a curriculum book!

Deb Chitwood said...

Lovely activities for summer, Mari-Ann! I always love your creative ideas (such as buying water balloons) and ways of personalizing activities (learning about Bermuda sand). I featured your skip counting activity and photo at

Michelle said...

I just found some pink sand from our Honeymoon! I hope to take Emily and Juliette back one day :0)

Deb Chitwood said...

I'm having fun re-visiting your patriotic activities today, Mari-Ann! I featured your tweezing and transferring photo and your post in my Montessori-Inspired Memorial Day Activities post at

Deb Chitwood said...

Now I featured your post and 4th of July pencil sharpening photo in my Montessori-Inspired 4th of July Activities at I also featured your sweet red treasure basket! :)

Unknown said...

I love your activities! So many wonderful ideas for the different areas of the classroom. I would also love to find out what songs/chants you use for circle time and transition. I have a new classroom and would appreciate additional ideas for classroom mgt and transition time.


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