Tuesday, August 27, 2013

This Post is Brought to You by the Letter B

What's on Our Shelves?

This is Part 2 of our activities for the week. We are doing a combo Bones / Letter B unit. We spent about two weeks talking about dinosaurs and fossils (which obviously included some discussion of bones), and I didn't know if I could find enough bones activities at M's level for the whole week... plus I just got our new set of sandpaper letters and really wanted to start using them!

I have been trying to limit the number of activities I plan and create - first to not overwhelm M, and second because I don't want to burn out myself. I decided that I would plan one "theme" activity for each of the Montessori "subject" areas (Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Math), and have one or two additional "generic" activities available to rotate in for each of the areas (like color tablets, sound cylinders, number/counting games, etc.).

As we get into our new "rhythm," we are doing a simple "Circle Time" activity after breakfast where we look at the calendar (talk about the month, date, day of the week, etc.), talk about the weather and any plans for the day or upcoming holidays, and pull out a few items from the Mystery Bag related to the week's theme.

M looking at pictures of bones and holding a dog bone

Practical Life

Pouring Beans

I bought several bags of different types of dried beans for this week's sensory bin, so I decided that it would be easy to use the beans for multiple different activities. I put out a cup filled with dried beans next to an empty cup. M can practice pouring the beans back and forth between the cups. I plan to add different spoons and tweezers later in the week to increase the difficulty.

It also led to an impromptu Practical Life activity - cleaning spilled beans off the floor!


Sorting Beans

Again, I already had the beans, so why not use them? I put five different types of dried beans into a cup, and we discussed the similarities and differences (size, color, shape).

She enjoyed sorting for a while, but started to get bored and was purposely putting some in the wrong compartments. I decided to switch things up, and told her to close her eyes while I put two beans in the wrong compartments. When she opened her eyes, she had to try to find the beans and move them to the correct spots as quickly as possible. That was a big hit!

Letter b Sensory Bin

I made this sensory bin with all sorts of objects that start with the letter b. I used several different kinds of dried beans as the base, as well as large handfuls of  plastic buttons and foam beads, a wooden banana, plastic bread, blocks, letter b magnets and blocks, bracelets, a bird bath toy, a small book, a bow, and a few balloons (two filled with air and two filled with water).

I put out an empty tray with the sandpaper letter b at the top. M found as many different "b" objects as she could and put them on the tray (except the pink bow - that needed to go in her hair!). She likes collecting things, so this was a fun activity for her. She also had fun searching through the bin for specific buttons (the buttons were in different shapes - circles, squares, stars, hearts, bears, and bows).

Next, she decided that birdy was hungry (his belly was empty), and she needed to cook some of the beans for him. She grabbed one of the cups from the practical life activity and scooped the beans from the bin to carry them over to her kitchen. After "cooking" them on the stove, she filled birdy's "belly" with beans. As usual, she came up with much better activities than I could ever think of!


Sandpaper Letters

We just got our new set of sandpaper letters in the mail (I ordered these from Kid Advance). I was excited to start using them, but I didn't want to overwhelm M, and she hasn't shown any particular interest in writing or tracing yet. She is very interested in identifying letters, so I thought it would be a good time to focus on learning the letter sounds. I find it hysterical that every time I tell her a letter sound (this letter says "buh") she asks "Why does it say that?" - like the letter is a person and is trying to communicate with her!

Anyway, we started by pulling out several objects from the Mystery Bag - skeleton nomenclature cards, a dog bone, and a book about bones - and I told her that "bone" starts with "buh." I showed her the sandpaper letter and demonstrated how to use two fingers to trace the letter and then say the sound. I'm struggling a little with deciding which hand to use to trace the letters because M can't seem to decide if she's going to be right or left handed. She draws equally well with both hands, and doesn't seem to have any preference at all. In fact, it seems like the decision of whether to use her right or left hand is purely convenience - which hand is closer to the marker?

After we traced the letter a few times, I gave her the small salt box to practice drawing the letter. She wasn't interested, so we quickly moved on.

Chalk Rubbings

Since the sandpaper letters were not as successful as I had hoped (obviously we'll keep trying, and eventually she'll be interested), I decided to turn it into more of a sensorial activity. We put pieces of white paper over the sandpaper letter, and used the side of a piece of chalk to create a chalk rubbing that resulted in a big letter b in the middle of the paper.

I took out some small stickers and showed her how she could use the stickers to fill in the shape of the letter, but again, she wasn't particularly interested in that (she did like the chalk rubbing part).


I have a few cooking activities planned for this week, but no true Montessori math activities. I am using this sequence to determine the order for presenting most of the activities we're using, and I'm starting at Period 1 to judge how M responds and whether she's ready to move on to more advanced activities in any of the areas. They don't recommend introducing any of the Montessori math works until Period 3. Almost every resource I've looked at says to focus on Practical Life and Sensorial for 3 year olds, and that's what M seems most interested in anyway (go figure).

Linking up to:

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  1. This is wodnerful! You do sucha great job! Id love to know what resources you use for understanding the Montessori Periods... Im begining my research... thanks!!


  2. Thanks! We're just starting too, but I've read several books and am following a bunch of great bloggers. The sequence can be found here-http://montessoristory.blogspot.com/2009/02/sequence-of-montessori-work.html?m=1. I'd recommend "Teach Me To do it Myself," " Raising an Amazing Child the Montessori Way," and the " Montessori at Home" e book for great basics to get started. Good luck!

  3. Looks like it was a fun week at your Tot School! That sorting game where some of the beans are in the wrong area sounds like something my daughter will enjoy so I may steal this idea from you :-) x

    1. Thanks! We are having a lot of fun! I hope your daughter enjoys it too :)

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks! We're having a great time :)