I am an Amazon Affiliate and a few other programs. Read my disclosure policy for more information.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Progress on the Montessori Map

I've been working steadily on the Montessori felt map.  Here's what I've gotten done so far:

By day three, I had completed the cutting and sewing of South America, Antarctica, and Africa.  Because this is a Montessori map, the continents are done in "Montessori" colors: pink for South America, white for Antarctica, and green for Africa.

By day six, yesterday, I have finished cutting and sewing Europe and Australia.  I didn't buy enough orange for North America, so I haven't finished it yet.  Last is Asia, the biggest and most complicated continent.  I still need to add the major bodies of water to the last four continents.

I'm hoping to get started on the "land and water" map this weekend.  I have been putting it off because it seems so complicated.  Also, it's been really hot and draping wool, even a wool map, over my lap isn't very enjoyable right now.

How about you- how do you deal with big craft projects?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Felt Montessori Map (Introduction)

I've finally started the Montessori Felt Map from Imagine Our Life!  This project has been on my wish list for over a year.  So many things have slowed me down, including my own insecurities, but today I started cutting the felt!

Felt Montessori Map from In Our Pond

Today, I figured out how to print directly onto the freezer paper, which is a real benefit for a project with so many little pieces like this one.  First, I ironed the freezer paper onto the regular computer paper.  Then, I ran the altered paper through the printer, making sure that the freezer paper was heading the right direction.  After the pieces were printed, I peeled the computer paper away from the freezer paper.  Then, I ironed the freezer paper pattern onto the felt and cut the pieces out.  The pattern can be used multiple times (at least 4 in my experience), which, once again, is very helpful in a detailed project like this map.  Here's as much as I got done today:

Felt Montessori Map from In Our Pond

I cut out the main "water" part, the stretched-out version of Antarctica, and two regular versions of Antarctica.  I also printed a few more pieces and ironed some of them on felt to cut out at a later time.

Here are the rest of the details for the project:

Supply List
- pattern from Imagine Our Life (here)
- printer
- fabric scissors (Amazon)
- freezer paper
- clothes iron
- printable fabric (Amazon)
- felt glue (Amazon)
- sewing needles
- DMC embroidery floss (Amazon)

Felt List (from Prairie Woolens)
- 36" x 9" (1/4 of a yard) white wool blend
- 36" x 18" (1/2 of a yard) sandstone wool blend
- 36" x 18" (1/2 of a yard) robin egg blue wool blend
- 9" x 12" yellow wool blend
- 9" x 12" light brown wool blend
- DMC floss #909, 3804, 817, 741, 307, 3023 (matched to the felt by Prairie Woolens)

Young Toddler Turtle Sensory Bin

Tadpole (21 months) loves "Mommy School" time.  A few days ago, I made hims a turtle sensory bin with an adult turtle and baby turtle from the Safari Ltd life cycle set.  I placed about a half inch of water on the tray along with the turtles.  Tadpole jabbered about the turtles (it's a great way to work on vocabulary) and move them around the water.  He also loved to splash the water all over himself.  A few minutes of set up game me several minutes of happy toddler time.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Organization- Calendars

Lately, Dragonfly has become very interested in calendars and knowing when something is going to occur.  I think it may be related to her recent birthday.  Her interest got me thinking about starting "calendar time" next school year.  As I was researching (Pinteresting) and creating our calendar time, I began to tangent toward other types of calendars.

First, I got the crazy idea to make tiny magnetic numbers for our fridge calendar.  I was mostly done with the project when I realized that our fridge calendar wasn't magnetic.  So, my tiny numbers are stuck on with "teacher tack."

The numbers are in two different colors so I can keep a perpetual calendar.  As one month passes, I begin sticking on the next month's days.  As you can see in the picture, July is blue and August is red.  Then, September will be blue again and on and on through the year.  It may seem silly but I really like the way it looks.

Last week, I got out this "Kids' Calendar" that I had made a few months ago.  The main pieces of it came from Mr. Printables (the months).  Montessori Method teaches kids that their birthday is equal to the amount of times that they've gone around the sun.  I really like that concept, so I made this kids' calendar to emphasize the point.  With Dragonfly nestled beside me, I put the "Earth" on July and said "This is the month you were born."  Then I moved it all around the circle, back to the July space and said, "Now, you are one."  We went around again- "You are two."  All the way up to age 4.  I'm planning on moving this calendar to our school time so that we can see together how the year adds up.

Edited 08-01-15
I've had several people ask me for a printable of the monthly calendar.  I don't feel like I can share it with you since the colored pieces came from Mr, Printables (here).  I cut and manipulated the pieces on my scrapbooking program, but the same thing could be done with scissors and glue.  The seasons came from My Cute Graphics, but you can also find nice realistic set on Montessori for Everyone.  I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

Here are two more types of calendars.  The 100's chart (from here) is counting the number of days that we've done our reading lessons.  On Dragonfly's birthday, I started the "How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons" book.  She's doing very well and is very excited (in fact, she can hardly sit still), but I thought a progress chart would be helpful to both of us.  She looks at the chart several times a day and is very proud of her work.

I also worked on the calendar time materials this week, which I'll write about at another time.  I guess the birthday reminded me of the passage of time.  I hope these many calendars will be inspiring.

Question: What kinds of calendars do you use?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Themes- Birthday/Ice Cream

It's birthday season in our family so I thought this would be the perfect week for a unit on birthdays.  A birthday unit led me to lots of counting work.  Since there is only so much counting work a kid can do, I decided to combine the birthday unit with an ice cream unit that I had been planning for a while.  Happily, I already had an ice cream "name spelling" activity, which also fit well with the birthday theme.

Theme; birthday

Activities: counting candles
                 going around the sun
                 life timeline
                 cupcake invitation to play

Books: "A Birthday Cake is No Ordinary Cake"
            "The Best Birthday Party Ever"

More Ideas: printable pack
                    cupcake counting by 10's

Dragonfly practiced spooning beads this week.  The beads were especially challenging, since they bounced a bit if she wasn't gentle.  She's still pretty impatient with the process and was soon dumping instead.

Meanwhile, Skimmer was using the little shot glasses to pour beads.  Like Dragonfly, he also discovered that the beads were bouncy.

The older two kids practiced blowing out their birthday candles by blowing pompoms across the table.  They really loved that game.

Theme: Ice Cream

Activities: stack-a-name
                  ice cream making
                  pretend play
                  sensory play


More Ideas: ABC scoops
                    word family cones
                    preschool printables
                    beginning sounds cones
                                                                            skip counting

Our main ice cream cone activity was counting scoops for the homemade cones.  Dragonfly doesn't like counting yet and isn't interested in it, so I had to sit next to her and help her do these numbers.  After we finished the work, I asked her to put the red pompom on the cone that showed her age- 4!
Follow In Our Pond's board summer- ice cream on Pinterest.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

United States Geography Swap (Introduction)

I'm a bit nervous about how to begin this process.  I've wanted to participate in a culture exchange for as long as I've known about Montessori, at least a year.  After reading about others swaps and encountering several dead ends, I decided that I will have to lead one.  I debated whether to try for an international exchange or a US-based one.  In the end, I decided that a US-based one would be better and cheaper for my first one.  Introducing the United States Geography Swap 2015!

Key Points:
- I will be advertising this swap in several places in hopes of making at least 1 team of 5 people/families.  If I get more people, I'll make other teams.
- After I get everyone assigned to a team, I will share the contact information (e-mails) with the 5 participants of each team.
- Each participant will put together one box of items from your state for each of the other participants on your team (and yourself, if you chose).
- The items will be shipping in a USPS Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate box (unless team participants decide on another size).
- At the time of this blog post, a flat rate medium box costs about $13.  Each participant can expect to pay at about $52 (13x4) in shipping the boxes.
- I (Missy Pea) am not responsible for the results of this swap.  I will organize and host the best that I am able, but there is also a lot that I won't be able to control.

Box Contents:
- This is a child-friendly swap.  Please ensure that your box contents are appropriate for all ages of kids.
- Your box can be a mix of homemade, free, and store-bought items.
- Because the United States is so diverse, please include a little about yourself or family and your heritage in the box.
- Please include at least 2 books about your state in general or a part of your state history.
- You may chose to find and prepare printables for your state OR you can include them on a CD-Rom for printing at a later time.
- Other ideas for the contents: brochures, recipes, food, toys/trinkets, postcards, nature items (shells, seeds, etc), flags, artifacts, tourist items, objects representing your family, and anything else you can fit in your box.

- This swap is open for individuals/families/schools in the United States, our districts, and territories.
- You and your team are responsible for how this exchange will go once I've set up the teams.
- You must commit to sending 4 boxes.
- Communicate with your team through e-mail to exchange addresses.  P.O. Boxes or alternative addresses may be used for security purposes.
- You and your team must decide your deadline or any additional rules.
- Please send an e-mail conformation to everyone on your team after you've shipped your box.

If you would like to participate in this swap, please leave a comment on this post, post a message on my blog's facebook page, or reply to my inquiries.  Let's do this thing!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Themes- Forest Fires

We have several wild fires near us at the present, so the kids have been very interested in talking about them and learning about them.  Because there isn't much available specifically on wild fires, I made this theme broader and focused on fire safety, fire trucks, the science of fire, etc.

Theme: Wild Fire

           firefighter 3-part cards
           stop, drop, and roll
           shaving cream flames and squirt bottles
           flame painting
           birthday candle blowing-out practice
           pouring beads
           blowing pompoms
           fire science (heat, fuel, oxygen)

Other Ideas: fire truck roll and cover
                    blindfolded crawling maze
                    911 and our address
                  dancing flames on the fan
                  firefighting pretend play

Books: "Flashing Fire Engines" (doesn't show a burning house)
            "Rescue Vehicles"
            "Whose Gear is This?" (doesn't show a burning house)
            "H is for Honk" (" ")
            "I Drive a Fire Engine"
            "Wildfires" (doesn't show a burning house)

Instead of an inside sensory bin, we took our play outside.  It's not very clear in the picture, but I sprayed the foam with red paint to make it a bit more "fire-like."  The spray bottles and hats came from the dollar store.  The bottles were in the assigned colors of the kids (pink, blue, and green), to cut down on the fighting.  The spray bottles ended up being frustrating for the kids because it didn't put out enough volume to wash the foam away.  If I ever did this activity again (especially if we weren't in a drought), I would give the kids the garden hose to use and perhaps spread the "fire"out to a few different areas as a challenge.

I tried to put the foam high on the tree so that the kids wouldn't be able to wipe it off with their hands, but that backfired.  They weren't happy about my decision and asked me to get it off the tree so they could play with it.  They were much happier with the new activity.

They used the foam to bathe themselves, to wash the car, and to squish between their fingers.  It was a great activity.  I need to remember to get our homeschooling outside more.  We have a great deck and a big (very dry) yard- I should use it!  And, the kids so enjoyed having me enter "their" world to play.

I thought a lot about the safety and practicality of this science experiment, after seeing the idea on Pinterest.  I strapped the kids into their booster seats to ensure that no one tried to dive at the flames.  I also lit the fire in another room and brought an already lit candle into the room.  During the first part of the experiment, I lit the three individual candles, and we talked about the three things that fire needs to burn.  One candle, we put out with water to show how fire needs heat to burn.  Then, we put a jar over the top of flame number two to stave it of oxygen.  This was the kids' favorite way of extinguishing fire, so we repeated it several times.  With the third flame, we let the candle burn itself out to show how fire needs fuel to burn.

The cluster of candles represents a forest fire.  I lit one candle, then leaned the "trees" into each other until they all caught on fire.  The kids loved how all the little flames combined to make a huge one.  I let them feel the heat coming off of the fire and talked with them about what to do if they see a fire, etc.  To put out our wildfire, I mixed up some fire retardant out of baking soda and vinegar.  When we poured the bubbly CO2 onto the fire, it went out.  The kids were amazed.  They asked to do the forest fire again.  It took a while for the fire to light the second time, because the candles were damp.  The "wet forest" gave us a chance to talk about wet fuel and dry fuel.  The picture above shows the second forest fire.  We put out this fire with a "fire and rescue airplane" and doused it with water.  I actually flooded the plate, which the kids thought was neat.

Then, we did the entire set of experiments a second time, with lots of predictions and predictability.

We're Linked Up!
Christian Montessori Network

Follow In Our Pond's board "f is for fire" on Pinterest.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

5+ Hacks for the Bathroom

5 Hacks for the Bathroom from In Our Pond  #toddler  #pottytraining  #kids  #children  #bathroom  #organizing

I've been reading a lot of "self-help" material about blogging.  One site suggested that I make a lot of lists, because readers like lists.  This morning when I was shower, I noticed a bunch of "hacks" in my bathroom that I thought would be good to blog about.  I have three toddlers currently, so most of my hacks are "life with toddlers" themed.  Here we go....

5 Hacks for the Bathroom from In Our Pond  #toddler  #pottytraining  #kids  #children  #bathroom  #organizing

We change diapers in the bathroom and use a fun place mat as a "dirty feet" catcher.  As you can see, we duct taped it to the wall, which is pretty tacky, but it's helped a lot to protect the wall.  Unfortunately, I didn't think of this idea until we already had footprints on the wall.  Don't make my same mistake- protect your wall today.

As a bonus, the kids love to talk about the placemat as they're getting their diapers changed.  Imagine how much millage you could get with a numbers or alphabet one?

5 Hacks for the Bathroom from In Our Pond  #toddler  #pottytraining  #kids  #children  #bathroom  #organizing

Our bathroom has a counter/table next to the sink without a cabinet under it.  We have a garbage can (a kitchen-sized one) for diapers and a 3-drawer cart for diaper storage.  The cart was especially helpful when all the kids were wearing different sizes.  Now, we keep regular size 6 diapers in two of the drawers and "night diapers" in the other one.  I really love this drawer cart!

There is a plastic bin on top of the cart with diaper rash cream, non-latex gloves, and random tub fun (like color tablets).  Amazingly, this is the only bin that the kids haven't gotten into yet- guess it's next.

5 Hacks for the Bathroom from In Our Pond  #toddler  #pottytraining  #kids  #children  #bathroom  #organizingThis hack has 4 parts.
3a- When you have lots of little kids, it's best to color-code them.  Dragonfly is pink, Skimmer is blue, and Tadpole is green.  Whenever possible, I buy things for the kids in their assigned colors.  It makes so much less fighting.

3b- We store their PJ's in these colored bins that I bought from the Dollar Tree.

3c- The mesh bag on the left is hanging on a cup hook and is for dirty kids' underwear.  It helps them not to get lost and makes it easier to put them away when they're clean.

3d- The bottom right corner shows another 3-drawer
 cart where we store the underwear.

5 Hacks for the Bathroom from In Our Pond  #toddler  #pottytraining  #kids  #children  #bathroom  #organizing

We also have room to store clothes for the two younger boys in the bathroom closet.  Skimmer has the two top bins and Tadpole has the two bottom bins (one for tops, one for bottoms).  We don't store clothes in the kids' room because I don't like picking up clothes over and over.  This system means that the kids can't reach their clothes.  It's one less area for the kids to destroy.

5 Hacks for the Bathroom from In Our Pond  #toddler  #pottytraining  #kids  #children  #bathroom  #organizing

Lastly, we hang the kids' potty seat on the toilet bowl for storage.  The hook is a kitchen towel hook (like this).  The kids can take the toilet seat down, put it on the toilet, use it, and hang it up again.  Most of the time, though, they don't use it.  We could almost get rid of it, except that I have one more kid to train.

That's the end of my list.  What are your favorite bathroom organization items?  Please comment below.

Pin It!
5 Hacks for the Bathroom from In Our Pond  #toddler  #pottytraining  #kids  #children  #bathroom  #organizing

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Safari Ltd Toob Ideas

Update (04-18)  This blog post was one of my most popular, but it was unattractive and and outdated.  I redid it with all my current Safari Ltd ideas and added some pinnable images.  I hope you enjoy the changes.

Montessori-Inspired 3-Part Matching Cards

Antarctic Animals

Australian Animals

Backyard Birds


Deep Sea Animals

Desert Animals

Dinosaur Skulls

Endangered Land Animals

Endangered Marine Animals

European Landmarks


Fruits and Veggies

Galapagos Animals




Mammal Skulls

Monkeys and Apes

New York City

North American Animals

Ocean Animals

River Animals



USA symbols

Whales and Dolphins

Zoo Animals

Sensory Bin with Safari Toobs

Fairy Garden

Horse Rice Bin

Backyard Birds Bin

Coral Reef Water Bin

Turtle Splash Tray

Australia Rice Bin

Frog Life Cycle

Dinosaur Rock Bin

Frog Splash Tray

Other Safari Ltd Ideas

Chicken Life Cycle

Pirate Map

Math 10-Frames

Literacy Scavenger Hunt Bottle

Safari Toob Storage

Bee Life Cycle

A-Z Bookends

Continent Box

Ocean Sensory Bottle

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pirate Clip and Count

I recently noticed that I haven't made any count and clip cards in a long time.  My last set was made last summer (here), so I decided it was time to make some.  The first set is pirate themed to go with our "X Marks the Spot" preschool unit.  There are 11 cards for the numbers zero to ten.

To download the file, click here.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Montessori-Inspired Backyard Birds 3-part Cards

FREE 3-Part Cards for Safari Ltd Backyard Birds Toob from In Our Pond

Montessori-Inspired Backyard Birds 3-Part Cards from In Our Pond

It's springtime!  Even thought it won't stop snowing and raining and hasn't gotten about 40 degrees, we're starting to see birds!  The kids are getting pretty restless getting stuck inside all the time, but they're enjoying all the variety of birds in our yard.  They have big plans for birdseed sensory bins, water fun, and other warm weather games.  Spring is also a great time for a bird, egg, or nest themed homeschool unit.

I updated the printable to go along with the Safari Backyard Bird Toob.

Montessori-Inspired Backyard Birds 3-Part Cards from In Our Pond

Pin It!
Montessori-Inspired Backyard Birds 3-Part Cards from In Our Pond

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Galapagos Animal 3-part Cards

FREE 3-Part Cards for Safari Ltd Galapagos Toob from In Our Pond

FREE 3-Part Cards for Safari Ltd Galapagos Toob from In Our Pond
These 3-part cards match the animals found in the Galapagos Animal Toob by Safari Ltd.  You can download this printable for free here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer Themes- Tree Frogs

This blog is an Amazon Associate.

Dragonfly has been very interested in frogs since we've caught the Pacific Tree Frog in our yard.  We
still have him, and he is very happy in the "habitat" that we've made for him.

His name is "Mr. Froggy" or "Mr."  We alternate his diet between live crickets and live flightless fruit flies.  The kids love watching him eat.

Did you know that tree frogs need to close their eyes to swallow their prey?  And that their teeth are just for holding the food until they swallow it?  And that pacific tree frogs can camouflage themselves as needed?  I've learned so much about our little froggy this week, and the kids have, too.

Theme: tree frogs

Sensory: frog pond sensory bin

Activities: frog life cycle cards
                  tadpole to frog puzzle
                  parts of a frog cards
                  metamorphosis roll and cover game
                  pouring frog eggs
                  counting bugs
                  parts of a frog puzzle

Books: "The Pacific Tree Frog"
             "Frog Life Cycle"
             "Pet Frog"
             "One Frog Sang"
             "Too Many Frogs"
             "Pond Circle"

Our Activity Trays:
Google eyes look a bit like frog eggs, so I thought this would make a good pouring activity.  Skimmer, especially, is very excited about pouring right now.

Just for fun, I made a "Five Little Speckled Frogs" sensory bin.  It's just blue-dyed rice, five frogs from the dollar store, and a piece of drift wood from the lake.

The real-life pictures from Suzie's Homeschool Education Ideas pair so well with the life cycle figures from Safari Ltd (Amazon link).  Dragonfly is really good at matching up the pieces and putting them in order.

Here's another shot of the same activity because we love Safari Ltd products.  That frog is about 3" diameter and a great size for kids to handle.  We also used the frog to learn the names of his body parts.

Tadpole (21 months) woke up before his siblings one day this week so I made him a simple frog pond sensory bin to play in.  In a half inch of light blue water, I placed our Safari frog, a few google eye "eggs" and a blue cup.  He spent a lot of time holding onto the frog and babbling about it.  He can now say "f-og" and "egg."  The google eyes gave him good hand-eye coordination practice and fine motor practice as he chased them around and tried to pick them up.  I think he played for about 20 minutes or so before he told me he was "all done" (with words, not with dumping, which is a triumph of its own).
Dragonfly (almost 4) also got a special tray this week.  We recently ordered the Quadro Jug from Amazon (pictured), in preparation of pouring drinks practice.  I was pretty nervous about how Dragonfly would handle glassware, but she did very well.  The Quadro Jug is perfectly sized for preschoolers and its handle is flat and comfortable in your/their hand.  The dessert glass, which we used as her drinking glass, came from the Dollar store.  I liked how the dessert glass was heavy on the bottom and didn't want to spill.  Of course, when she did spill a little, we had "clean-up" practice with a cloth and bowl.  She decided that next time, she needs a sponge.  Very Montessori.

Follow In Our Pond's board "e is for eggs" on Pinterest.

What other frog ideas have you done?  What have you seen or thought about doing?  I'm always gathering ideas for next year.

We're Linked Up!
Christian Montessori Network