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Friday, May 29, 2015

Z is for Zoo

In true Montessori fashion, Dragonfly did this activity
three times before she felt like she had mastered it.
Theme: Z is for Zoo

Work Boxes:  Which Animals Am I? matching game
                        land, sea, sky sorting
                        habitat sorting with tongs
                        Which One is My Home? folder game (free)
                        Zoo Animal Matching (free)
                        Animal Roll and Cover game (free)
                        Mommies and Babies Matching (using wild animal and babies toobs)


 Life Size Zoo- This is a book that we keep coming back to and one that we'd like to own in the future.  Opening this book brings you face to face with wild animals in a way that few people ever see.  And it's all life-size!  So, for the elephant, you only see an eye and part of an ear.  For the koala bear, you see the entire animal.  Each page also includes a little informational box about each animal and a diagram showing you how much of the animal is included in the picture. Although my kids enjoy this book, I would actually recommend it for ages 4 and up because of the size of the book and the pages that fold out (not very toddler friendly).
The View at the Zoo- Who is watching whom at the zoo?  This fun, silly book explores that subject with phrases like "Wake up your cubs, Mrs Bear.  Mr Lion, comb that hair."  The pictures are engaging and cute.  Be sure to look at both the animals and the humans as each line has a double meaning.  Great fun for all ages but especially for ages 2-5.

Good Night Gorilla- As I was researching this unit on Pinterest, this book kept being mentioned as a favorite.  Fortunately, I only checked it out of our library, because it was not a favorite in our family.  The story is cute but the words are very simple and there are many pages without words at all.  I suppose this would be appealing to kids who enjoy storytelling, but it didn't hold my kids attention at all.  I believe the recommended age for this book is 2-3 year olds.
 Who Scoops Elephant Poo?- We really liked the "Animal Poo" book because it goes through all the different types of jobs at the zoo.  It also has lots of science words, which Dragonfly loves.  She was really disappointed that the book wasn't about elephant poop and the bacteria that lives in it.  Such a science girl!

Song: Jobs at the Zoo Song (by me)
           Who scoops the poop, the poop, the poop?
           Who scoops the poop, at the zoo?

           The zookeeper, the zookeeper, the zookeeper, the zookeeper
           Who scoops the poop, at the zoo!

           Who makes the food... at the zoo?

           Who brushes the teeth... at the zoo?

           Who gives the baths... at the zoo?

         - "The Animals at the Zoo Say" (to the tune of the "Wheels on the Bus")
        - "Animals Homes Song" (to the tune of "The Meatball Song")

Videos: Zoo News- Poop (parts 1 and 2)
             Zoo News- Nutrition (parts 1 and 2)
             Zoo News- Training (parts 1 and 2)

Follow In Our Pond's board "z is for zoo" on Pinterest.
photo from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_tree_frog
(please pin at original source)

Bonus: We found a tiny frog on our house.  The kids helped me make a habitat for it in a big plastic jug (with netting on the top for air).  Our aquarium has dirt, moss, succulents, a water source, and ants.  After we spent a long time on the couch watching our frog, I got on the internet to find out more information.  I learned that our frog is most likely a "Pacific Tree Frog," which grows to be less than 2" in length.  It's also the "state amphibian" of Washington.  It's habitat ranges from Alaska to southern California and is the most common species in those areas.  Here's a good article on providing a good home for the frog should we decide to keep it as a pet.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Flower to Hive Pollen Folder Game

To download, click here.

Safari Spelling Words

I'm working on a big packet of learning printables in a "safari" theme.  The first in the series is a busy bag game for spelling practice.  I seem to be a bit obsessed with spelling words lately.  Maybe because I always hated it as a subject.  Now I'm the teacher/mom and I'm trying to make it fun.
All pictures are from https://commons.wikimedia.org
To download, click here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Juggling CVC Words

There aren't a lot of circus themed printables available, so I'm making my own.  This folder game is a spelling game with five game boards (one for each vowel).  The kids can help the juggler keep the CVC words in the air.
To download the game, click here.

We're linked up!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Pond Games

This pack contains two kinds of pond games: a roll and cover one with turtles and a frog hop race with a paper dice.  Both are available for free here.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sorting Bugs

Believe it or not, I actually don't like writing about my printables.  So, here's another one.  You can download it here.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

How Much Are Words Worth?

These two activities combine reading, math, spelling, and money counting for the "ultimate" activity.  The "menus" list food items with spaces below to place Scrabble tiles.  After spelling the word, they are then asked to add up the value of the tiles to get the "price" of the item.  Next, they should count out correct change for the item.  This could be used in a pretend play setting or as a folder game for quiet independent work.

Alternatively, the students could be asked to spell the words, count the number of letters (instead of the Scrabble values), and then count pennies for the price.  Of course, the math aspect could be completely left out as well.

Candy Shop
Cocoa/Coffee Shop

We're linked up!

Friday, May 22, 2015

J is for Jungle (rainforest)

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The preschool community seems to be divided on what the "jungle" is.  Some think it refers to all big, exotic wild animals (lions, tigers, elephants, etc).  I'm choosing to make "jungle" mean the rainforest, specifically, the Amazon Rainforest.

Monday:  We started our week with a taste of fresh pineapple (from Costa Rica) and talked about how and where they grow.  The kids decided that they liked pineapple even though it was a bit "spicy" on their tongues.  While they were eating, I introduced them to the concept of the rain forest in a very broad way.  I also began teaching them our songs-of-the-week, "Whose the King of the Jungle" and "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree."  Later that afternoon, Dragonfly (3.5) and I played the "frog game" using beans that have been painted red on one side and blue on the other.  The beans (we started with 6) are placed in a cup, shaken, then spilled onto the table.  The blue ones and the red ones can be counted separately and added together or math sentences (6-4=2 for example) could be written using the beans.  Dragonfly didn't want to do the activity, so I introduced her to our "big numbers."  The numbers have dots on them, which correspond to their value (five dots for the number 5).  This was the first time that Dragonfly had seen the numbers written.  I gave her one number at a time and asked her to place the "frogs" on the dots as we counted them.  Then, I would say something like, "Five frogs make up the number five."  She understood it very well and was soon able to guess the number based on the number of dots- she had unlocked the "secret."
We did use the Rainforest Toob animals but they didn't make the pictures.
Tuesday:  Today, the kids ate a dried tropical fruit mix with coconut, mango, and bananas.  They loved it.  Dragonfly thinks it tastes like candy.  We had some "formal" learning time while I introduced them to the animals of the rainforest through a toob of Safari animals.  Then, we played with the animals in roasted coffee beans, which have a neat texture.  Later in the day, we reviewed the rainforest animals with a set of photograph flash cards.  We also practiced our "Five Little Monkeys" song but changed the "crocodile" to "caiman."
Can't you smell the coffee?
Wednesday: This is dance class day, so we usually don't get very much school done.  The kids ate more pineapple, continued learning the "5 Monkey's Song," and played outside.
Dragonfly, Tadpole, and Skimmer
Thursday: To finish off our school week, we had a swamp sensory bin!  I found "caimans" and plastic snakes at the dollar store.  The kids especially loved the caimans after singing about them all week.  I made the swamp in our turtle "sandbox" by placing green jello and water in it.  I made the jello with unflavored gelatin and food coloring, in hopes that our swamp wouldn't attract ants or bees.  It worked very well but Dragonfly informed me that they need more jello next time.  She also suggested that we do the swamp as a play-date.
Dragonfly demonstrating how "caimans" eat jello
Friday: This is our "in-town" day so we didn't do any schooling.  Dragonfly "performed" her "Five Little Monkeys" song for her daddy at dinner-time.

Internet Resources:
matching Safari Toob animals
frog game
rainforest video
sensory bin
coffee bean task
making ten folder game

"We're Roaming in the Rainforest"
 "The Watering Hole"

Follow In Our Pond's board "j is for jungle" on Pinterest.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mammals Busy Bag Game

I created this game for our preschool unit "b is for babies."  The game features 17 pictures of mommy animals nursing their babies (and 1 picture of a human mom).  Children can use the cards to play memory (print two of each pages), can match their animal figurines with the pictures, or can simple flip through them as flashcards.  There is also a bonus poster (pictured) that can be used as a room decoration.  The non-mammal pictures were chosen because they show how non-mammalian animals feed their babies vs how mammals are fed.

Download the packet HERE.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mickey Color Matching Busy Bag

In the Pinterest world, the paint chip busy bag is pretty common.  Unfortunately, the paint chips have been discontinued, leaving many sad parents behind.  I finally decided to stop looking for the paint chips and to make one instead.  HERE is a free downloadable matching game.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Penguin Measuring Activity

One of our theme weeks in Mommy School is P for Penguins.  I found this cute idea on Pinterest (here) and decided to DIY one for myself.  The graphics are from "My Cute Graphics" dot com and everything else was created with my digital scrapbooking program.  The penguins are meant to be measured with Goldfish crackers (which are 2 cm long) or you can use the "Goldfish Ruler" included in the packet.

To download it, click here.


Monday, May 18, 2015

1 Sensory Bin/ 2 Ways

Sometimes, the simplest things are needed to entertain your toddler.  This bin was requested by Skimmer (2.5) and he played for a long time.  When I first set it up, I gave him six animals (pairs of giraffe, elephant, zebra) and a small handful of beans.  The beans became food for the animals in his pretend play and he also enjoyed matching up the animals into families (mommies and babies).  After he tired of playing in the dry bin, I asked him if he'd like to wash his animals.  The second bin had a half inch of warm water and a dot of dish soap.  When he was finished playing, he set the tray on the table and asked me to get him down out of his highchair.  That method was a big improvement over his previous one of just dumping the bin when he was done with it.  He's growing up.

Skimmer Story:
Today he was running his truck up my arm.  "Up a hill," he exclaimed.  Then, he pushed it back down my arm.  "Down the hill."  He was pretty excited with the opposite phrases he had just stated.  "Up.  Down," he repeated several times, as if solidifying it for himself.

I love watching my kids learn new things.  This is why I do Mommy School.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Continent Boxes (post 1)

I found the idea of "Continent Boxes" on Pinterest last year, and they immediately became part of my "to-do" list.  Continent Boxes (CB) are an organized way to store and present content about the seven continents.  The boxes can be filled with pictures, maps, objects, food, artwork, informational cards, souvenirs, currency, flags, or anything you want.  They were originally a Montessori idea, so most of the materials available for CB are Montessori in nature.

The founder of the Montessori teaching style/lifestyle assigned colors to each of the seven continents to help children identify them (and the material that goes along with them) easier.  North America is orange, South America is pink (although for aesthetic purposes, I think I'll be using purple),  Africa is green, Europe is red, Asia is yellow, Australia/Oceania is brown, and Antarctica is white.  Nearly all of the printed materials I've found have used those colors, which is why I mentioned it.  I've also found that people usually include an extra box for a country of particular interest to the family, such as the nation that the family calls home.
Please pin at original source: Living Montessori Now
Some people make "Continent Bags" instead of boxes using fabrics from the different regions.  Others chose boxes in plain colors that match up to the Montessori continent colors.  Some uses clear plastic shoe boxes, white bankers boxes, or even carts with drawers to hold the materials.  There is really no wrong way to make a continent box, which is a good thing.

Unfortunately the variety (and storage space) involved in a CB was one of the things that prevented me from starting on them.  Then, this week, I had a revelation- you don't have to start with 7 bulky (and sometimes quite empty) boxes.  You can start with just one!  And, so I have.

I decided to start gathering all of my "worldly" materials into one box, which could then be divided into smaller boxes as our homeschooling life grew.    My box is a bit heavy on the "Africa" side, since my husband and I spent over a year there before we started our family.  The items are:  a couple small baskets from Botswana, a cookbook from Botswana, some money from Botswana and South Africa, a pair of pod necklaces from Swaziland, and a wood-carved elephant from Swaziland.  I have also visited a few Latin American countries (and my husband was born in one), so I added some currency from El Salvador and Costa Rica and some coffee beans.  The globe is from the top of a Safari Toob.  I included a "Wild" Safari Toob, but it isn't visible in the picture.  I have a lot of empty lip balm containers from my seed matching game so I've started filling some of them with spices: cumin, turmeric, and coriander.  Once I started this box, it was easy to find things to put in it.

I have two printables in my box, one called Children Around the World Cards (free at Teachers Pay Teachers) and the Montessori Continent Cards (free from Imagine Our Life).
Please pin at the original location: Teachers Pay Teachers
In my research, I ran across a blog after my own heart called Imagine Our Life.  She has an entire series about a felt map that she made for her kids.  And, she gave her patterns away for free!  I intend to make the map my "summer project."  She also includes printable cards for each continent that match up to the Safari Ltd Toobs.  Please check out her amazing ideas on her blog.
Please pin at original source: Imagine Our Life

q is for questions (hummingbirds)

I found out this week that it is illegal to own a hummingbird nest or the eggs.  Therefore, I made
us the functional scale model using a lip balm container (about the size of a quarter) and
a couple of chickpeas for eggs.  I also learned that hummingbirds always lay two eggs at a time.
When I was writing the Mommy School Curriculum last summer, I thought it would be a good idea to turn the letter "q" into a unit where the kids' could pick the area of study.  Last week, when we had seven birds at our feeder, Dragonfly asked if we could study hummingbirds this week.  I've decided to expand it into a study of birds, nests, and eggs.

Theme: q is for questions (hummingbirds)


Sensory: bird seed bin

Educational: comparing different size/colors eggs
                     video of hummingbirds from birth to flight

Work Boxes:

Books: "A Hummingbird's Life"
            "Dancers in the Garden"

Song: "Rocking Robin"

Outing: a chicken house on a friends farm to see nesting boxes, hens, chicks, and eggs.

My lungs weren't very good this week so a lot of what I planned didn't get done.  I had hoped to make candy nests, cheerio bird feeders, and a sensory bin.  I also had several work boxes planned but we didn't end up doing any of them.  I don't feel badly about this at all- this is partly why I make my own curriculum.  There's always next week and next year.

Activities That We Didn't Do:
          - "cooking" candy nests
          - DIY bird feeders (cereal)
          - counting eggs on numbers
          - roll and count nest game
          - catching worms game
          - parts of a bird puzzle

Follow In Our Pond's board "N is for Nest" on Pinterest.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Zoo Animal 3-part Cards

FREE 3-Part Safari Ltd Wild Animals Toob from In Our Pond

I'm on a printables roll lately.  Here's another one for our zoo unit: a Wild Animal Toob matching game.

FREE 3-Part Safari Ltd Wild Animals Toob from In Our Pond

FREE 3-Part Safari Ltd Wild Animals Toob from In Our Pond

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Insect 3-part cards

Montessori Inspired 3-Part Cards to Match the Safari Ltd Insect toob // free printable // In Our Pond

It's springtime!  Time to think about bugs and insects.  I would love to hatch butterflies, ladybugs, or praying mantises this year with the kids.  We haven't done it before, but I think they would love it.

We also love Safari Ltd products, including their animal toobs.  They're so great for homeschooling.  We put them in sensory bins, sort them between insect and non-insect, and match them with the Montessori-inspired 3-part cards.  The cards can be used in the traditional 3-part way or used to for spelling practice and other things.

Montessori Inspired 3-Part Cards to Match the Safari Ltd Insect toob // free printable // In Our Pond

As I was working on the insect printable, I had a few card slots open.  I decided to stick in a bonus printable- the Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle. These cards match the Safari and Insect Lore life cycle sets.  These would be wonderful to use as part of a butterfly hatching activity.

Pin It!
Montessori Inspired 3-Part Cards to Match the Safari Ltd Insect toob // free printable // In Our PondMontessori Inspired 3-Part Cards to Match the Safari Ltd Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle Set // free printable // In Our Pond

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Roll and Cover Games

I've recently started looking at my Mommy School curriculum and making lists of the subjects/areas where I'd like to add more material.  Thanks to my digital scrapbooking program, it's pretty easy to make up my own worksheets, busy bags, and games.  Here are five "roll and cover" games that I've made:
          Candy (L for Lollipop)
          Zoo (z for zoo)
          Pirates (X marks the spot)
          Circus (j for juggle)
          Space (u is for universe)

To play a roll-and-cover game, print out one game page per player (this can be a solo game too).  Grab something to "cover" the game squares, like buttons, candy, plastic stars, pompoms, etc.  Take turns rolling the dice and covering up that many squares.  The game ends when one person has covered their entire board.  Alternatively, you can play a subtraction game where you start with a covered board and then take away as you roll the dice.  Additionally, you could ask the child to record the math as number sentences (20-5=15 for example).


Monday, May 11, 2015

Candy Themed Activities

One of the new themes for next year is "L is for Lollipops."  I know this is a controversial theme, but it's also fun and whimsical and colorful.  Lollipops have a special place in our family, so it makes since to do a theme based off of them.  Besides, it give me a good "in" for a dental unit.

There isn't much on the internet for "candy themes" so I'm making up a lot of it myself, which I enjoy.  Here are three:

Colored Candy Graphing

Lollipop Matching (busy bag)

Rainbow Candy Patterns


Friday, May 8, 2015

B is for Body

It may be late for other places in the country, but here in the Great White North, our apple trees are finally blooming.  The fat bumblebees make the tree hum as they go about their work.  The days are long and warm (about 70 F) and out homeschooling has moved outdoors.

This week, we studied the human body.  I know that's a big topic but the kids are young so we just focused on a few concepts.  Sort of by accident, we spent a lot of time talking about injuries and how our bodies heal.  We also tried a new technique called "Five in a Row," (FIAR) where the parent reads one book every night for five nights in a row (we actually only made it 3 nights).  This method is supposed to help kids to absorb information, vocabulary, rhetoric, etc.  The book we used this week for FIAR was "Your Body Battles a Skinned Knee."  The book uses child-friendly pictures and concepts to explain what happens in our bodies when we get a skinned knee.  This has been very applicable since we've had a number of skinned knees this week (sigh).  From reading this book and discussing it, Dragonfly can now tell you that the "Fibrin makes a net to hold in the red blood cells so we stop bleeding."

We also bought a stethoscope this week and listened to our heartbeats, the blood going through our veins, and "secret" messages from each other.

Our sensory bin for the week was a model of our blood.  Not a very good one- I'm saving the "gross" model for later years.  Our bin only had "red blood cells" made from tapioca pearls, ping-pong balls as "white blood cells," and spiky balls as "germs."  The kids played with it for about 45 minutes: sifting, touching, squishing, jumping, splashing, rubbing, etc.  Of course, the airplane wasn't planned but it still managed to "sneak" in anyways (Skimmer is hardly ever without his planes or cars).
Theme: B is for Body

Practical: hand washing practice
                listening with a stethoscope

Sensory: blood sensory bin
              glitter germ experiment

Educational: doctor's office pretend play
                    skin color chart
                    human body videos (Youtube)

Work Boxes: fingerprints exploration
                     tooth brushing practice

Books: "Germs Make Me Sick"
             "I See Me"
             "Bear Feels Sick"
             "My Amazing Body"
             "The Life Cycle of Humans"
             "Your Body Battles a Skinned Knee"
             "Pilobolus- the Human Alphabet"

Song: "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes"

Outing: Well-child check-up at the doctor's office

Follow In Our Pond's board "B is for Body" on Pinterest.

Friday, May 1, 2015

G is for Grasshopper (and other bugs)

We only have a few more weeks of official Mommy School left.  This year has gone so quickly; although it didn't look exactly like I planned.  I've read enough homeschooling blogs to know that how we're feeling is normal.
Theme: G is for Grasshopper

Practical: bug catching outside

Sensory: bug sensory bin
              -dirt play dough (planned but didn't happen)
             - tasting honey

Educational: dead or alive ladybug game
                    - counting bugs
                    - learned that bees make honey

Work Boxes: bee folder game
                     - bee folder game 2
                     - bee counting busy bag
                     - pattern block bee hive

Books: "I Love You, Stinky Face"
           -  "The Best Bug Parade"
          - "Bugs A-Z"
          - "Grasshoppers"
          - "The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive
          - "Are You a Bee?"

Song: theme song from the Bug Zone

Outing: the yard/woods to look for bugs
fill and dump game with the bugs