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May 2017

๐Ÿฆ Bird Unit Inspired Sensory Bin (Montessori Sensorial Activity with a Math Twist)

Today, inspired by the ๐Ÿฆ Bird Unit Study, we are exploring a Bird-themed sensory bin.

According to Dr. Maria Montessori, from birth till about seven years of age, children have a very sensorial relationship with their world โ€“they use all of their five senses: of sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell to explore their environment. Anything that comes in contact with their senses, goes directly to their brain. Dr. Maria Montessori called a child a โ€œsensorial explorer." She believed that a Sensorial Activity - selecting just one sense - allows a child to discriminate order and grade the environment. As such, all of the sensorial materials were designed to isolates just one quality which is to be worked with by a child, thus allowing the child to focus on that one quality exclusively and wholeheartedly. Also, the material should be esthetically pleasing, thus attracting childโ€™s attention and allowing the child to manipulate such material with pleasure. Moreover, the material must be complete (make sure you have enough objects for each numeral), thus allowing a child to finish through the entire work cycle without having to stop and find a missing piece. Most importantly, Dr. Maria Montessori designed her Sensorial materials to beโ€œmaterialized abstractionsโ€ - meaning that through such materials, abstract concepts are made into concrete materials.

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What you need:

  • a bin, box, tub, tray or any other container;
  • filler: we are using white rice with thin spaghetti (to resemble little twigs), fresh dried flowers, rosemary and herbs;
  • the exact quantity of objects to represent each numeral;
  • numbers one through ten;
  • a spork tongs for transferring (buy here).

DSC_0011The purpose of this activity is for the child, while utilizing his/her fine-motor skills, to retrieve all the objects using tongs, and then sort them, count, and match the exact number of objects to its respective numeral.

DSC_0016 Exploring the sensory bin by touching and feeling the content stimulates tactile senses. 

DSC_0016While using tongs to retrieve all the objects, the child is practicing pincer-grip while developing fine-motor skills. 
DSC_0016Smelling dried flowers stimulates olfactory senses.  
DSC_0016All quantity objects are retrieved, sorted, counted and matched to the correct numeral. 

Although this activity is primarily tactile (stimulating the sense of ๐Ÿ–๐Ÿป touch), the sense of ๐Ÿ‘€ sight was also stimulated as Adrian had to visually discriminate the miniature objects to retrieve, sort and count them. Also the sense of๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿป smell was triggered by smelling dried flowers and herbs, thus giving our Bird-inspired sensory bin an olfactory dimension.

I strongly believe that sensory bins are extremely important for child's development since by manipulating different textures and fillers children are triggering various sensory stimulations, sending multiple signals between neurons, thus strengthening neurons connectivity and spurring neuroplasticity (the production of new connections between neurons and new neurons themselves), which in turn increases brains' agility.  Can we ask for more from an aesthetically pleasing tactile sensory bin? 

To learn more about Birds, see our ๐Ÿฆ Bird Unit Study here

p.s. We did a similar sensory bin last Christmas - read  here our "Christmas-inspired Shredded Paper Sensory Bin with a Math twist" post. 


๐Ÿฆ Bird Unit Study ๐Ÿ“šBooks and Materials

To learn about ๐Ÿฆ birds we read, look at real life photographs, observe and explore hands-on.

Fine Feathered Friends: All About Birds book (buy here) is Adrian's favorite as Cat in the Hat leads children on a bird-watching tour through entertaining rhymes and captivating facts. 

Birds each have a beak and a tail and two wings. They are covered in feathers and stand on two legs. And when they have babies, they hatch out of eggs. Birds have 3 eyelids on each eye and have no teeth. Don't ask us why!

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The Birds of North America Flash Cards (buy here) allow children to learn to appreciate and identify the rich diversity of bird life. The set comes with 48 cards, each featuring a beautiful vibrant photograph and, on the reverse, the common name, scientific name, bird's size, wing span, and other bird facts. 

DSC_0021Exploring the Northern Cardinal Bird hands-on.

We started our Bird Unit Study with birds that live around us, and Julia drew a Northern Cardinal in her Bird Journal. She would refer to Stokes Beginner's Guide to Birds: Eastern Region book/bottom-right (buy here), which is a pocket-size, brilliantly colorful, and a simple-to-use guide. This ideal introduction to the birds of the Eastern United States contains dozens of full-color photographs with details about most common species; range maps; tips on attracting and observing birds; information on habitat needs, life cycle, food preferences; and much more. 

Below are pictures of the Northern Cardinal at our backyard bird feeder.

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Julia would also refer to the National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America book (buy here), which features 100 species of birds from coast to coast. Fifty of the country's most popular birds are laid out in a stunning two-page spread, which includes information such as birds' range, the sounds they make, and the food they like to eat. Each bird's profile also includes fun fact, and a feature called "A Closer Look," which digs deeper into once aspect of the bird's life (eating habits, birdsongs, etc.). 

DSC_0029In her Bird Journal, Julia draws a picture of the bird (Blue Jay here) and writes pertinent facts.

DSC_0376 Blue Jay at our backyard feeder.

DSC_0005Adrian is fascinated with Hummingbirds in this brightly illustrated National Geographic book.


DSC_0021 YellowThe African Golden Weaver is endemic to Africa.
DSC_0021 YellowWeavers get their name because of the elaborately woven nests, which face downward. 

We had a chance to observe up close these tropical birds during our last visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom. (Read a post "๐Ÿ’šAfrican Savanna at Disney's Animal Kingdom" here).

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Children also enjoyed the Birds of North America 100 Piece Memory Game (buy here). While looking at vivid photographs of birds and learning their names, they had a chance to train their memory and visual skills. Julia also read the bird facts on the included poster.


We also learned about bird's body parts hands on, by observing American Robin bird and assembling a Montessori Zoology puzzle. 

Read details about this puzzle as well as what we have learned about birds, such as what is the one characteristic that sets the birds apart from other animals: Is it a beak? wings? hatching from eggs?  in this post "Learning About ๐Ÿฆ Birds with a Wooden Montessori Zoology Puzzle." 


DSC_0007See here ๐Ÿฆ Bird Unit Inspired Sensory Bin (Montessori Sensorial Activity with a Math Twist).

Stay tuned for more studies on birds.  


๐ŸŽ–๏ธMemorial Day - How We Remember

Today, we are paying homage to the๐ŸŽ–๏ธ Memorial Day, a day to show solemn remembrance of the brave Americans who have laid down their lives for the freedom we so cherish.

In the morning, to honor those brave men and women and to make it special for Julia (who is off from school today), Adrian cut some fresh peonies from our garden to decorate the table. He also set the placemats (buy similar here) and utensils (buy here) for their special Memorial Day breakfast.

DSC_0017As a food offering: Adrian washed some berries and served some nuts.

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DSC_0017Children also enjoyed hot cacao.
DSC_0017See children's outfits here. 

Julia then read to Adrian a Memorial Day book (buy here), and we talked about the significance of this holiday, during which we pay tribute to those who died serving in the military, while protecting our country, our values and our freedom.


Below are some of the Memorial Day inspired activities.
DSC_0590A math twist to a fine-motor sticker activity. 
DSC_0590Adrian would place the exact amount of gold stars as the number indicates. 


DSC_0528Memorial Day Inspired Pom-Poms Tonging Color Sorting Activity.

DSC_0528Tonging pom-poms using spork tongs (buy here) is a great fine-motor exercise.
DSC_0528Tonging pom-poms using sugar tongs (buy here).
DSC_0528All pom-poms are sorted by color from a lotus dish (buy here) into sake cups (buy here).


DSC_0528Memorial Day colors inspired U.S. Flag Dot-Sticker activity.

DSC_0528Placing dot-stickers on the flag-template requires precision and is a great fine-motor exercise. 

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DSC_0590Another great fine-motor exercise is to using a tweezer to sort stars by color.

We love using Holidays as themed unit-studies for our activities, which adds newness, diversity and a spike in interest.  


Learning About ๐Ÿฆ Birds with a Wooden Montessori Zoology Puzzle

Did you know that only birds have feathers? That is what makes a bird different from other animals. Feathers, such as soft down keeps the birds warm, while wing feathers allow flight and tail feathers are used for steering. The color of the feathers can be used to hide the bird (camouflage) or to attract a mate.

Non-exclusive bird characteristics:

  • Did you know that birds do not have teeth? Instead of teeth, birds have a bill or a beak, but other animals, like a duck billed platypus (which is a mammal), also has a bill.
  • Baby birds hatch from eggs, but other animals, like fish, amphibians, reptiles (for example a crocodile), insects and even some mammals, hatch from eggs as well.
  • Birds have wings, but other animals, like insects (such as a butterfly, dragonfly, or a ladybug) and some mammals, have wings too.

 
DSC_0019An American Robin in our backyard has a close resemblance to our Wooden Bird Puzzle.

DSC_0019This wooden Montessori Zoology Bird puzzle (buy similar here) is perfect for developing  fine-motor control as a child pincer-grips the pegs of the puzzle pieces, while learning the parts of the bird.  

"Only birds have feathers; baby birds hatch from an egg;  ... bird's tail is used for steering."

DSC_0023 A child can also assemble this puzzle on a table, aside from the puzzle board. 

DSC_0019"By-By Robin Birdy!"

For more on Birds, read our "๐Ÿฆ Bird Unit Study - Books and Materials" here

For more on similar Montessori Zoology puzzles, read here "Wooden Animal Zoology Puzzles Cabinet Set."

For more on puzzles, read here "National Puzzle Day - How we celebrated in 2017," and here "Jigsaw Puzzles Roundup for a Three Year Old".


โž•Addition Strip Board Making ๐Ÿ”Ÿโ€™s (Montessori ๐Ÿ”ข Math ๐ŸŽฅ Lesson)

This lesson  is an extension to a lesson on "โž•Addition Strip Board" where a child uses a traditional Montessori material: Addition Strip Board (buy here). Once the child is comfortable with adding numbers using the board, and has a strong understanding of quantity to numeral concept, this is a great way to introduce a child to combining numbers to make new numbers.

In this video, Adrian is making 10's.

To combine numbers making 10's, a child would start at the top (show your child how to bring the strips right to the line). A child would position the blue strip on the left, and then count the squares to see what number is needed to make a ten. A child would then pick the corresponding red strip. 9+1=10; 8 +2 =10; 7 + 3=10 etc.

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Here, Adrian was making 10's, but a child can "make" any number, and the bigger the number is, the more combinations there will be available. For example, number ten yields the largest number conditions. 

As always, a child would put the material back on the shelf. The best way to put strips back in a box is to start with the longest strip because there is only one way all the strips will fit into the box.

Read here post "โž•Addition Strip Board (Montessori ๐Ÿ”ข Math ๐ŸŽฅ Lesson)."