Sunday, March 30, 2014

Europe - St. Patrick's Day Fun

We continued our European journey to Ireland in honor of St. Patrick's Day. We started by learning a little about St. Patrick himself, and finding Ireland on the globe.

I printed some sequence cards to go along with a YouTube video about St. Patrick and the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. We watched the video a couple of times, and then I paused the video after each section to give M time to put the sequence cards in order. When she finished, she retold the story using the sequence cards as a guide.

We also sang this cute counting song about 5 Little Leprechauns. M liked removing the leprechauns when they disappeared.

We've been focusing on a lot of Practical Life activities lately, so I designed some St. Patrick's Day - themed trays that would help work on developing those skills. 

Tweezing Gold

M used tweezers to pick up tiny gold beads and put them in the holes of a spice bottle. She found this activity challenging, but was able to complete it. She really liked shaking the "gold" back out of the bottle when she was finished.

Hole Punch Shamrock

I printed a picture of a shamrock with several white circles all over. I showed M how to use the circle hole punch to punch the green paper. She liked using the hole punch, but wasn't interested in gluing the circles onto the shamrock. I finished one to show her an example, and she decided she'd just take mine to hang on the wall instead of finishing her own - haha.

Over the Rainbow

I printed a picture of a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I used a sharpie to draw 5 dots along each color of the rainbow. M used the tweezers to place a matching colored pony bead on top of each dot.

Making Green

This was definitely one of M's favorite activities! She used a pipette to mix blue and yellow colored water in the wells of her tray. She repeated this activity over and over and over. There were lots of extensions that we explored - How many drops of water can fit in a well before it overflows? What happens if you add more blue? More yellow? Which shade of green is darker or lighter?

Pouring Green

M is really interested in pouring liquids right now. She's getting better and has fewer spills than she used to. This was just a basic liquid transfer tray with two pitchers. I added a few drops of green food coloring to the water for a little surprise.

I threw in a Sensorial activity for good measure:

Visual Discrimination - Leprechaun Pictures

I printed this set of leprechaun pictures (actually for a dominoes set) from Kids Can Have Fun. I showed M how to line up the pictures to find the matching pairs. 

Painting Rainbows

I guess all of the talk about leprechauns and rainbows stuck in her head. This is the painting M created at The Children's Museum. She painted it entirely on her own - flowers growing in the grass with the sun and a rainbow overhead. She was very proud of it. I was glad I got a picture before we left, because the wind ripped it out of my hand on the way out of the museum and the wet paint ended up all over my sweater (you can imagine what happened to the painting after that...).

Baking Irish Soda Bread

We followed this recipe for "Amazingly Easy Irish Soda Bread," which was in fact amazingly easy. I don't remember what M was doing (probably working on her color mixing tray), but I made this pretty much on my own. I somehow forgot to buy raisins, so our soda bread was made with Craisins instead - delicious! I called her over to help cut the "X" in the top to let the Devil out of the bread.

Shamrock Sundaes

We went to the beach with my parents for a few days, including St. Patrick's Day. The hotel offered shamrock sundaes to celebrate - yum!

We've had a lot of fun learning about Europe! Check out the rest of our European Unit, and the other continents we've learned about on our Journey Around the World.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

E is for Europe

We're back with some European fun! We're slowly continuing our Around the World Adventure. I have started taking an online Montessori training course (KHT Montessori), so we have slowed down our pace with the cultural studies to make time to follow along with the course and try some new presentations and materials. We started our European study with Greece and Russia while watching the Olympics, and are continuing to learn about different parts of Europe, including Ireland for St. Patrick's Day.

Intro to Europe

We did a really basic intro to Europe. I set out the felt world map so she could identify where the continent was located. We looked at the globe and identified some of the countries in Europe and listened to facts about those countries. We also looked at some famous landmarks, country cards, and mementos from Europe. My husband and I honeymooned in Italy and Spain, so we looked through some photos and mementos from that trip as well.

European Foods

What better way to learn about Europe than to eat some European foods? I chose some meals that I knew M would eat (like spaghetti for Italy), and some foods we could cook together. Here are a couple we tried:

Greece: Simple Spanakopita

These were delicious! M wouldn't eat them, but my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were in fact fairly simple to make (filo dough is a pain to work with, but everything else was easy). M really liked making these, and probably would have liked them if she tried them, but she's in a picky stage right now. She loved brushing the butter onto the dough and "rolling" the dough into triangle shapes.

We baked a few of them and froze the rest. They were great out of the freezer too - the perfect appetizer!

Russia: Apple Sharlotka

This was another success. We made these as muffins rather than a large cake, and they were delicious!


Olympic Rings

We read a couple of books about the early Olympics in Greece and found Greece on the globe. We also talked a little about Russia, found Russia on the globe, and watched some of the Olympic events on TV. M really liked the Olympic Rings (she's really interested in drawing circles right now), so we focused on circle and color sorting.

I used the Lego Color Sorting activity from Toddler Approved as a guide to create this color sorting tray. M was a little beyond it, but she enjoyed it anyway.

After completing the sorting tray, she wanted to draw some circles of her own. I gave her construction paper in the colors of the Olympic Rings and a circle stencil. She traced all different sizes of circles, and carefully cut out several circles of each color. I tried to get her to make a collage from the circles, but she wasn't interested.

Trillium Montessori had this great Olympic Ring Stamping activity that used toilet paper tubes to stamp the rings. M tried it, but after stamping each color a few times she decided she'd rather just paint with a paint brush. She started by painting circles of different colors, then it gradually morphed into a portrait.


I also printed the Ring Color Book from 3 Dinosaurs' Winter Olympics Pack. M is getting a lot better at paying attention to the shapes on a sheet and attempting to color inside the lines.

Here are a couple of other printables she completed from the same pack.

Olympic Sports

We planned an "Olympic Field Day" with some friends, but the kids weren't really interested in the activities and chose to just play together on the playground instead. I printed these Olympic Memory Books from Paging Supermom, and also had some little paper towel and tissue paper "torches" for a relay race. We had some other basic equipment for sporting events. Maybe they'll be interested in four years - haha!

M dressed up in red, white and blue for the field day:

Throughout the week we tried other sporting events too:

Trampoline (ski jump, high jump, long jump)

Ice Skating

Ballet (Ice Dancing)

Interestingly, they listened to "I Learned a Word in French Today" at ballet class to practice plie and releve, which gave us the opportunity to talk a little about France and different languages. I love when that happens!

We will continue to learn about Europe this coming week, so be sure to stop back for some St. Patrick's Day fun! Check out the Around the World post for the rest of our adventures!