Montessori Inspired Garden Activities For Toddler And Preschoolers

Gardening and gardening with kids are both therapeutic, fun, educational and worth the time spent with it. My parents told me that if you have a green thumb it can be really beneficial if you love gardening. In my homeland, my late father had established an area to grow what we eat like banana, taro leaves and crops such as sweet potato and cassava. I grew up with a memories of gardening with my family. Here in the US, We live in a tropical state where palm trees, flowers and variety of plants blooms beautifully. Together with the whole family, spending our time outdoors working at the garden are always a memorable one. I cherish those moments I’m helping my Dad to grow fruits and vegetables at our backyard. This memories stays with me forever and to keep those memories alive, I am sharing our precious moments at the garden with my now three year old daughter Audrey. This activities are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. Small objects such as glass beads are choking hazards so take extra precautions for your littles.

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It is true that man has created enjoyments in social life and has brought about a vigorous human love in community life. But nevertheless he still belongs to nature, and, especially when he is a child, he must needs draw from it the forces necessary to the development of the body and of the spirit.” Dr. Maria Montessori (p153 tmm)

Montessori Inspired Garden Activities For Toddler And Preschoolers

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  • Decorating the patio– Giving child a task like decorating the patio is something that gives them a sense of responsibility and self confidence.

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  • Creating a mini garden– This is a fun activity for sensory play in the garden. I give her some glass beads, pebbles, rough stones, miniature fairy garden set and a mini pool. Then I show her how I decorate and place it in bin with stones. This mini pool or tub is her favorite hang out in our garden. She can play there for hours without interruptions just toss some ball, pool noodles, rubber duckies and other toys. You can also convert this into a reading area just place some blanket or picnic mat and throw pillows on it!

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  • The best shoe is no shoe at all! According to expert Tracy Byrne specializing in podopaediatrics, walking barefoot develops the muscles and ligaments of the foot, increases the strength of the foot arch, improves proprioception or the awareness of where we are. With this theory, I believe every child belongs to nature.

But it for the physical life it is necessary to have the child exposed to the vivifying forces of nature, it is also necessary for his psychical life to place the soul of the child in contact with creation, in order that he may lay up for himself treasure from the directly educating forces of nature.” Dr. Maria Montessori (p155 tmm)

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  • Grounding- Let children walk barefooted in a grass, beach sand, soil and smooth stones.

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  • Smelling flowers and herbs– A good activity to exercise sensory perception for your little ones. Choose plants in your garden that are safe for children.

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  • Child size patio and pool– I set up this cute mini patio area to give her a personal space to play, read and explore something new to her. I also place some child size chair, her gardening pail, mini bird house that she painted recently and a picnic mat to hang out or just simply lay there at night for moon and stars sighting. Of course the mini pool was her favorite play area.

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  • Insect observation– Observing ants in an ant hill. She knows that stepping on an ant hill would hurt her feet so she’s really careful not to step on it.

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  • Cutting leaves- A good activity to strengthen hand muscles. You can also find more inspirations and ideas from my blog “15 Effective Fine Motor Activities”.

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  • Painting a bird house- Kids love to paint. A wooden unfinished birdhouse is an excellent tool to let your child engage in an activity that strengthen their hand muscles and at the same time fuel their creativity by deciding what color to apply and materials to put in it for decoration.

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  • Writing/Drawing/Doodling on a chalkboard, white board or doodler pad– Also a fun tools to use during summer. I move this easel whenever we have an activity like painting, tracing, drawing and even just to hang a leaves to dry. I just put a string and tiny clips on it. A colored chalk, washable pens and markers, paints, stencils are best match with this fun activity outdoors.

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  • Watering the plants- Children naturally loves to help and contribute to our daily task. This simple task can be an exciting part of a child’s development that they can apply as they grow older.

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  • Weeding– Another task that she loves to do at the garden. I gave her the smallest weeder I saw at our backyard. For her this is part of her fun outdoor play but next thing you know, your child will be volunteering to do garden works for you!

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  • Let them explore– Observe, keep your distance, don’t talk. Let the child concentrate on something interesting to her.

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“The human being is a united whole, but this unity’s to be built up and formed by active experiences in the real world, to which it is led by the laws of nature.” (The Absorbent Mind p.203)

 

Spring Activities For Preschoolers

Spring time is here! I know many of you are excited for this much awaited season of the year and some had their spring activities planned for the following months. My daughter Audrey was born during spring season, and this is my favorite season of the year too! She loves going to the garden and play with butterflies, check the flowers and vegetables and  watch the bird sings. As a parent we love to see our garden blooms with variety of flowers, watching birds chirp, seeing rainbow after the rain showers and other signs of spring we love to watch and witness with our little ones. I want to instill in her the love for mother nature, and having this season of the year is a perfect time to show little ones the beauty of spring.

For kids spring symbolizes flowers, butterflies, birds, garden and rainbows so mostly of our themes for activity consists of this things. With an active little girl in mind, I am sharing this spring activities for indoor and outdoor that your kids can enjoy too! I will continue to add more spring activities each week while we also explore the beauty of nature. This activities are created for three year olds and older. Below are the list and photos of what we’re doing at home.

Spring Activities For Preschooler

Egg Transfer- Several colorful eggs in a basket and a green bunny egg holder. She will transfer one by one the eggs into the bunny egg holder.

Molding Bunny Using Cookie Cutter and Dough- I use non toxic purple dough and three part bunny cookie cutter with a rolling pin. She will roll flat three small balls of dough and mold each of the bunny parts.

She can use other dough colors such as red and green too as what shown below. This dough can get hard easily so it is best to place back into the container with the cover on.

Chalk Board Drawing- She likes to use the chalkboard and try to draw some shapes on it.

In this photo, I showed her how to put pink and blue shades into the flowers. She just watched me do it. I know she’s observing me how to do it, because next time I know she will be using the same chalk to draw in this board (this happens in my make up bag!)

Doily Poking- I gave her a round cute doily and marked a green circle in it. She will follow the green mark using a jumbo push pin. This activity is great for enhancing the hand muscles for pincer grip. This is an excellent way in preparation to hold the pencil correctly. I started to introduce this activity to my daughter lately when she was 33 months. A close supervision is needed.

Catching Butterfly With Handprints- A really cute activity and a precious keepsakes for your little ones. I traced her both hands with washable board marker then I let her put butterfly and flower stickers around it.

Salt & Pepper Shaker Easter Eggs- She scoop beach sand and put it in each eggs, then she will shake it pretending its a salt and pepper shaker! Your kids will love this too.

Bunny Painting- A cute bunny with primary color paints. She’s using a fine brush to match the size of the little bunny. This hand painted bunny can also be used as an ornament!

Cutting Leaves- A great outdoor activity. We love to do activities outdoor. This is perfect if you have a space for table and chair to set up for your kids. She’s actually sitting in an adult garden chair doing her leaves cutting. She’s using a pre-k scissor.

Sticking Easter Window Clings- I let her stick each letters at the glass door by giving her  the letter /H/ first then /A/ and so on until she finished everything and I let her read the words she created. Audrey started to read words when she was two years old.

Gardening Supply Shopping- I include this as one of our spring activities because a young child can learn tons of vocabulary words when they see, feel and touch objects.

She loves lily pad! This is the garden area of Lowe’s where she saw several plants, flowers, garden decors, bird feeders and bird house and a lot more.

Resources;

Here are the books we love to read and recommend for your little learners. All are scholastic books with different spring units that you can incorporate with your curriculum.

Flowers, The Egg, The Ladybug, Birds, The Tree, Fruit and A Seed Is a Promise

What are your favorite spring activities? Please share this fun spring activities. Follow my blog for more ideas and inspirations.

The Value Of Practical Life Activities To A Young Child

In this blog, I am sharing some important thoughts and insights about practical life skills and also our special moments at home doing some household chores with a help of a young child. First, I would like to share my thoughts why this is greatly important to a growing and developing child (first plane of development). It is important that we allow the child to experience and touch a variety of household materials that we use in our daily living. The more they are involve in whatever we do the easier for them to learn an important life skills that will last a life time. That is the best gift we can give to our new generations of learners”

I still remember a fellow co-worker at school asked me “Why do the child needs to learn how to wash hands using a basin?” I simply answered her “The child discovers new things and they are very curious to learn the process”.

Maria Montessori placed great value on the Practical Life exercises, referring to them as the “gymnasium for perfecting one’s action”. She believed that they not only refine skills but also form the foundation of character.

The experiences in Practical Life are crucial for building a firm foundation for future learning. Before children can master language and math skills, they need solid work habits and a strong inner sense. Practical Life activities are the vehicle to build this foundation.  

Practical Life in a Montessori education benefitted a child through spontaneous repetition or mastery of each activity. Through this activity the child also develop the love for work, independence, hand-eye coordination and love of order.

Core Principles Of Practical Life Activities; 

  1. Emphasis on life skills
  2. Care of environment
  3. Care of self
  4. Order
  5. Purposeful movement
  6. Develop motor skills (large and small muscles)
  7. Leads to independence
  8. Leads to conscious choices
  9. Auto-education (learning by doing)
  10. Language
  11. Raise self-esteem and self worth
  12. Executive Function- In a young age we encourage them how to organize, plan, take initiative and self-regulation. The work itself has it’s own reward.

Through Practical Life activities, children build and refine the internal skills needed for the learning that is to come. Montessori noted that children construct themselves through their own activities. The Practical Life area offers an opportunity to build a strong foundation for all subsequent work, making it an essential part of the young child’s experiences.

The exercises of practical life are formative activities, a work of adaptation to the environment. Such adaptation to the environment and efficient functioning therein is the very essence of a useful education.” Maria Montessori

Here’s a collection of our family moments at home doing simple chores as a practical life activities that a young child can learn and master. As you can see, a very close supervision is needed for an activity such as cooking wherein hot surface is a common danger.

Herbal tea portioning using a spoon

Egg slicing using a bread knife

Cutting a banana using bread knife

Vegetable washing

Mixing pancake batter

Washing corn

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Rolling and putting back the work matIMG_0447.JPG

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Thank you for visiting my page and taking your valuable time to read this article. Please follow me for more ideas and inspiration about Montessori method, parenting and homeschooling.

Montessori Activities From Daiso Items

I created some fun Montessori activities that can incorporate with other practical life activities. From my previous blog, I showed photos of my Daiso shop finds. I came up with some cute activities that your kids or students will love. The photos above are some of the activities I made.

IMG_6459Picture to Object Matching– This miniature wild animals are a perfect match for Picture to Object matching activity. You can do object to object matching, three part card with objects, safari theme sensory bin, or make a story line with these lovely animals.

 

IMG_6447Clothes hanging– I use the wooden box with wire on it then cut out mini clothes pattern from the felt material with the smallest clothespin to hang the clothes.

 

Pom Pom Sorting– I have this cute training chopsticks for kid which I also bought at Daiso last year. This is a great exercises for fine muscles for young ones. I pick three different colors of pom poms for sorting

 

 

Pipe cleaner threading into a golf ball- This activity helps to enhance and develop fine motor in early years of life. 

 

Felt Flower Sorting– Three colors of felt flower for sorting activity. You can add a matching colored felt pads for each cubes for the child to match the colors.

 

 

 DIY Smelling Bottles- These smelling bottles are my favorite. They are actually a pepper shaker. What I like about these bottles are just a right size for a child’s hand and another thing is it’s clear! You can also create a sound bottles from these. 

 

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 Quiet Book– I’m still in the process of finishing this quiet book made of felt for my little girl. The felts are also from Daiso and the felt stickers are bought from Michael’s. For now I have five pages of animals, flowers and cupcakes felt pages. I wanted to add more like shapes and colors. This is my very first time to make a quiet book for my daughter. Im starting with a simple pattern and basically a no sew quiet book. This activity is perfect for our long drive this month. 

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Things To Buy At Daiso For Montessori Classroom

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You are definitely a real Montessorian if you love shopping cute stuff at Daiso. They have a wide selection of things that can be useful for practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics, cultural and art. I’ve been a big fan of Japanese products ever since I was little.  Daiso have a vast selection of quality items from kitchen utensils, personal stuff to gardening. I love their wooden utensils, small wooden boxes and tray, miniature erasers, cleaning materials, baskets and many more. As I walk along the aisle of the shop, my brain was continuously making projects! Like “Ohhh that pepper shakers can be a smelling bottles”, “this  felt can be for cultural class”, and “this cute tray can be for sorting”. There’s a lot of ideas to collaborate to make a Montessori activities. You don’t need to spend a fortune specially for home school or small Montessori school.

Being a teacher and a mother, hunting for learning materials are my continuous goal that gives me that “thrill” of seeking something useful and valuable. I want to share to you my recent Daiso treasures. These are high quality items but inexpensive. You can incorporate these lovely finds in your Montessori classroom activities. It will save you a lot of money. Children love tiny objects and these are a perfect recommendation. Make extra precaution when you have toddlers in your class or at home. Majority of the items are for three years and older.

In this photo shows a couple of scooper, plastic balls with holes, pepper shaker, invisible tape, pencil sharpener and Japanese sound maker.

In this photo you can see three sets of felts with varying colors, soup spoon, wooden ladle, plastic storage and ziplock. All are $1.50 each. 

Note: The felt are of high quality material that you need to use a sharp scissor in able to get the sharp edge you want to create a nice project.

Wooden box for metal inset paper. 

Note: this might not be the same as the standard size but I’m going to create my version instead.

 

Four section wooden box for sorting activity.

 

Wooden hour glass-I use this for our “silence game”.

 

img_6449Trays- High quality sturdy tray with handles. The size is just right for tiny hands.

 

This miniature erasers are my ultimate find. It doesn’t look like an eraser due to the detail and craftsmanship of each piece. Also above is a pack of clear bags for my nomenclature and three-part cards.

I know that not all 50 states and countries have Daiso shop. Here’s a list of other go to places to score some materials for your classroom.

Alternatives if you don’t have Daiso in your area:

1. Dollar Tree or any Dollar Store– Offers wide arrays of products that can be useful for practical life, math, sensorial, language and arts & crafts.

2. Goodwill Shops or Thrift StoreYou can find items that are kept on original packaging as in unopened. Be patient you can always find one. Or  kitchen utensils for practical life-like small pouring containers, soup spoon, ladles, mini rolling-pin, small bowls, stainless steel pitcher, cutting board and other stuff you will need in your Montessori home or classroom.

3. Yard Sale or Garage Sale– Some residential areas held a weekly sale or once a month. This is a great place to go. Sometimes some residents just wanted to get rid of their old stuff so they will offer it for free. Take it! Anyway “one man ‘s trash is another men’s treasure.

4. Offer Up– This is an app for smart phone wherein you can buy or search for a particular item in your area. Make an offer then buy the item. You either pick it up or meet ups. I used this app when I was still pregnant. I’m looking for a particular Italian brand wooden changing table and luckily I found it here.

5. Michael’s- They always have the miniature objects like animals, fruits, vegetables, little house items, baskets, wooden trays, wooden miniatures and plants and more things necessary for your projects.

6. Amazon They offer a very wide selection of wooden toys and small items, miniature animals, kitchen utensils for children, apron, baskets, trays and many stuff. Name it and they definitely have it!

I hope you will find all the things you need for your Montessori environment from the shops mentioned above. On my next blog, I will show you the Montessori activities I created from these items bought from Daiso.

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