Julia 8 years Feed

Pipe Cleaner ❤️️Heart ✏️Pencil Topper Valentine's Gift

Are you looking for a simple and inexpensive ❤️️ Valentine's Class gift? Julia needs to make 38 class gifts this year, and this super quick and easy Heart Pencil Topper DIY is a perfect fine-motor craft, which will keep those little fingers busy and classmates happy!  These Heart Pencil Toppers would also be great as last-minute Valentine’s Gifts to friends or as party favors! 

DSC_0038What you need: pencils and red pipe cleaners. 
DSC_0038Make a ❤️️ heart shape from a pipe cleaner.

DSC_0038Wrap a ❤️️ heart pipe cleaner over the top of the pencil. 

DSC_0045-2Vola! A simple yet practical Class Gift! 

Please note, that these toppers will stay on, but if mingled with, they may fall off. The solution? Glue them to stay put! 

A note on fine-motor stimulation: Children engage in a variety of fine motor activities such as drawing, tracing, cutting, bead threading, and writing from a very young age. By the age of four, they are expected to be able to write few letters, such as those in the child’s name, and cut with scissors in a straight line. By the time they turn five, a child’s fine motor skills are expected to progress to the point where s/he is able to accurately write all 26 letters, the 10 number symbols, and child's full name with all letters in the proper order as well as cut straight lines and simple curves. By the age of six, children are expected to be able to tie their own shoes, cut out complicated shapes and color “within the lines.” What we can do to meet those expectations is to create a sufficiently stimulating prepared environment where the child will be able to exercise those fine motor skills while carrying on the love of learning, and we can do so by setting up activities that spike an interest, such as themed activities, holiday-inspired activities, and unit studies, amongst the few. 

DSC_0066Read here a post about Classroom Valentine's Gifts (Julia made last year).

DSC_0003-2Julia & Adrian's feet Art Projects, along with 36 Classroom Valentine's Gifts last year.

Hearts from BeadsFor more on pipe cleaner DIY, see here Valentine's Inspired ❤️Hearts Pipe Cleaner Beading Craft.

For more on Valentine-Inspired activities, see here ❤️Valentine's Inspired Activities for Kids.

🎄Christmas 🎅🏻 Inspired Holiday 📚Books

Below are 📚books we have been enjoying reading during the 🎄Christmas 🎅🏻 Holidays.


Books by Lori Evert (left column):

  • The Reindeer Wish (buy here),
  • The Christmas Wish (buy here), 
  • The Brave Littel Puppy (buy here).

Rudolph series by Robert May (middle column):

  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer 📚 book (Part I) (buy here); see a📎 link to a blog post 👇below or here,
  • Rudolph Shines Again (Part II) (buy here).

 Books by Jan Brett (right column):

  • Home for Christmas (buy here),
  • The Hat book (buy here); see a📎 link to a blog post 👇below or here,
  • The Mitten Book  - absolute Winter favorite! (buy here); see a📎 link to a blog post 👇below or here.


More 🎄Holidays Inspired 📚Books (left to right, top to bottom):

  • Little 💙Blue Truck's 🎄Christmas (buy here); see a📎 link to a blog post 👇below or here,
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Lift-the-Tab (buy here); see a📎 link to a blog post 👇below or here,
  • Reindolphins: A Christmas Tale (buy here),
  • How to Catch an Elf (buy here),
  • PAW Patrol: The Night Before Christmas (buy here) - Adrian loves all the flaps and Paw Patrol are his currently favorite characters!
  • Polar Express 30th Anniversary Edition (buy here).


DSC_0168Do you 🎉celebrate The ❄️Winter solstice — also known as Yule, Midwinter, the Shortest 🌅Day of the Year and the Longest 🌌Night! This holiday, (which lands usually on December 21st) is a great opportunity to bring out a 🌏globe and a 🔦flashlight and discuss the sun, the seasons, the tilt of the 🌏 Earth and so much more!  

🌬Winter 🌅 Solstice Books:

  • The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice book (buy here) has lots of fun activities you can do with your kiddo such as determining the positioning of the ☀️ on the 🌅horizon by measuring a shadow, 🖍sketching the positioning of the sun ☀️ by using a compass and more;
  • The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice (buy here) is a wonderful collection of stories honoring the winter solstice, but for an older child - 8 yo and up.



These are 🔍 some of our favorite❄️Winter books:

  • Ice Is Nice!: All About the North and South Poles, Cat in the Hat's Learning Library (buy here),
  • Winter, First Step Nonfiction (buy here),
  • Winter Wonderland, Picture the Seasons (buy here) is an amazing book written by Winter with humorous text and gorgeous photography,
  • The Secret Life of a Snowflake book (buy here); read a post about it here
  • Merry Christmas, Squirrels! (buy here).

  DSC_0183 More Holiday 📚Books:

  • Red and Lulu (buy here) is a great story about two red cardinal birds and a Rockefeller Center Tree in Manhattan;
  • The Nutcracker Ballet (buy here),
  • Our American Holidays: Their Meaning and Spirit (buy here).

DSC_0180Julia has been playing a part in a Nutcracker ballet for the past two years, and these Glass Ballet Slipper ornament (buy here) now decorate our tree.

Below are 📎 links to posts when we brought 📚books to life with small world invitations to read.

DSC_0074See here "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer 📚•🎅🏻 Holiday 📖 Reading ✨Collection."

DSC_0185See here Rudolph's Lift -The-Flap book inspired "Skip Counting by 2️⃣" Math Activity. 

DSC_0174Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Lift-the-Tab (buy here).

DSC_0316See here "The Mitten Book ❄️ Winter Favorite 📖Reading 📚Collection."


DSC_0018See here "The Hat Book  ❄️ Winter 📖 Reading Collection."

DSC_0133See here "Little 💙Blue Truck's 🎄Christmas • A Holiday 💎Gem 📚Book."



DSC_0166 The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving (buy here) which we read on St. Nicholas Day. Read a post about this holiday here "St. 🎅🏻 Nicholas Day 🎁Custom of 👞Shoes."

What Holiday 📚books are your favorite?

See here the roundup of activities we have done in the month of December "🎄Christmas Inspired Unit Study."

Emotions (Body) • Feelings (Mind) ✂️DIY 😃😮😡😢☹️😆Puppets ♻️🚽Craft 🎥 101

Please meet our EMOTIONS/FEELINGS puppet friends! 

Many people use the words “emotions” and “feelings” interchangeably. However, although highly related, the meaning of emotions and feelings is distinct.  An emotion is a conspicuous physical bodily response to a common change, while a feeling is a mental reaction to an emotion that is personal and gained through experience. Interestingly, emotions actually proceed feelings.   

IMG_9207 To apply our theoretical knowledge, we are making EMOTIONS puppets. 

DSC_0363What you will need:

  • recycled toilet paper rolls,
  • pipe cleaners,
  • hole puncher,
  • googly eyes, 
  • Pom Poms,
  • Sharpies pens,
  • and a glue gun. 

In this video, Adrian is making a 😢 sad crying puppet. 

DSC_0389 Meet Mr. 😢 Sad.

While I helped with drawing facial expressions (children drew a rough draft for me on the side), they were in complete control as to how to decorate their puppets.    DSC_0392

This craft can promote gross motor skills when the child has to press the hole puncher to make a hole in the paper roll. Also, it promotes fine motor control when the child has to insert pipe cleaners into the punched out holes. 


EMOTION puppets can be a great tool to help teach a child to identify and talk about feelings. Through role-play and pretend puppet shows, you can help a child gain confidence about how to express feelings and respond to them in an appropriate and healthy way.


Since emotions are physical, they can be noticed by facial expressions, blood flow, and a body stance. Feelings, on the other hand, are mental and as such, they cannot be measured precisely since they reflect one's personal associations to emotions. So, this was a great exercise to discuss how eyebrows and/or shape of the mouth can give us clues as to the puppet's emotional state.

DSC_0382While emotions are usually fleeting, the feelings they evoke may last for a long time. And because emotions can initiate feelings, and feelings in turn initiate emotions, it is important to teach children to understand how they feel to prevent a cycle of at times painful and confusing emotions. 

Here, Adrian is making an 😡 Angry Guy, associating the color red with a strong emotional state. 

DSC_0389Meet Mr. 😡 Angry. 

DSC_0389Meet our 😃 Happy Puppet. 

DSC_0389Meet our 😮 Surprised Puppet. 

DSC_0389Meet Mr. ☹️Sad. 

DSC_0389Meet the 😆Laughing Puppet. 

DSC_0383Meet our EMOTIONS Puppet Friends! 

You may also prompt your child to play out puppet faces in order to help him/her connect the emotions with physical sensations. This way, the child can see that emotions affect what he/she does, and that there is a choice about how to respond to a particular feeling. Julia, for example, if she is upset or unsettled, needs to have a "TTYL" with me (Talk To You Later), meaning that she wants my undivided attention for a minute or two to express how she feels and what troubles her. This seems to always work in making her feel better and centered. Adrian, on the other hand, is not very emotional at his age, so no elaborate routine is required: a hug and a sorry always do the job.


I hope that you will find our EMOTIONS Puppets craft useful in teaching your child that there are many different feelings, and that it is totally normal to feel them all. Feelings may be comfortable or uncomfortable, and feeling emotions, whatever they are, is a natural phenomenon. Young children deal with many of the same emotions adults do. Children get frustrated, sad, angry, nervous, happy, or shy or embarrassed, but they often do not have the words to describe how they are feeling. I hope that with the help of this puppets craft, you can enhance your child's socio-emotional development by helping him/her understand feelings and express emotions in a healthy balanced way.  

DSC_0070I also made this EMOTIONS puzzle where a child has to match two parts of the face. Make sure you color-code on the back of each piece by placing same-color stickers on halves that make the whole. (For example, the 😡angry face will have two 🔴🔴red stickers on the back of each half; this way the child can self-correct.)

DSC_0070Once the child matches the puzzle-pieces, as a control of error, he/she can turn the faces and see if the assembly was correct.

The Center for Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation has a great article here about different ideas on how to teach children about emotions.

Also, Emotions and Mindfulness go hand in hand, so read here a post "🕉Mindfulness with Children (☮️PEACE Education)" and here "Montessori ☮️PEACE Shelfie (Grace &Courtesy, Gratitude, Pillars of a Peaceful Character)."  

Paper Towel, Markers and 💦Water 🌈 Color Mixing ⚗️Experiment (🔬⚗️⚖️Science meets 🎨Art 101 🎥Series 🎇)

Today, we are exploring colors while creating patterns on a paper towel, and thereafter experimenting with water and color mixing, coming up with a new art piece, different than the original.


What you will need:

  • paper towel (we are using Bounty),
  • Sharpies (buy thin point here and thick here), markers and/or highlighters,
  • droppers (we are using silicone bulb dropper from this set),
  • water.

Paper Towel, Markers and Water Color Mixing Experiment from Anya on Vimeo.

DSC_0006 Adrian's art before adding water.

DSC_0006 Did you notice that where children used Sharpies, the colors did not "bleed" or mix as much?
DSC_0006Julia's artwork after adding water. 

The water travels through paper diluting and mixing colors. This process is similar to our Capillary Action Science Experiment below, where I describe the process in details.


See here "💛💙❤️Primary Colors, 💦Water & Paper Capillary Action ⌛️Timelapse ⚗️ Kids Science Experiment (🌈 Rainbow Walking Water). "  

For more on color mixing, see here a video-post "👔 Father's Day🎈Balloon Color-mixing DIY Craft (Sensorial 🖐️👀👂👅👃 Activities 101 🎥 Series 🎇)." 

For more on Science experiments, see here a video-post "Lava Lamp: Oil vs 🌈 💧Water Density Immiscibility ⚗️Experiment with 💥Alka Seltzer."

See all our 🔬⚗️⚖️ Science Experiments here.

Montessori ☮️PEACE Shelfie (Grace &Courtesy, Gratitude, Pillars of a Peaceful Character)

Montessori education has been referred to as "peace education" and even Gandhi praised Montessori's approach to world peace. "If we are to teach real peace in this world... we shall have to begin with the children."—Mahatma Gandhi. So, how is PEACE cultivated in a Montessori environment? Maria Montessori believed in freedom of movement, the power of observation, and the need to "follow the child." So, since children in a Montessori classroom are free to choose an activity and work at their pace, as well as are free to move around the classroom, the teacher's main goal is to make sure that children are engaged in their prepared environment and offered an opportunity for immense concentration. "Work cycles" are valued and protected, allowing children to experience the sense of security, satisfaction, and joy from their uninterrupted work.


Also, through Grace and Courtesy lessons, children are given tools for peacefully resolving conflicts and thus cultivating a peaceful, productive and harmonious environment for learning. Children are proactively shown by example how to respect a classmate's work, how to carefully walk around a work rug, or how to interrupt politely.

Moreover, by teaching children gratitude as a part of peace education, we can ensure that they have all the tools they would need to meet every situation with a mindset of abundance, appreciation, and joy. Gratitude is a powerful mindset of "having enough" which brings the fullness of life, and we as parents and teachers can play a vital role in helping our children learn a lifelong appreciation for what we already have, rather than what we do notMontessori pedagogy defines gratitude as an active appreciation for the everyday elements that nourish the whole child — including their growing bodies, minds, and spirits. Despite the obvious benefits that gratitude offers developing minds, neuroscience proves just how effective daily gratitude can be: improved physical and psychological well-being, higher self-esteem, and even longer lifespans. Exercises in Grace and Courtesy reflect Montessori's method of “peace education” when children are shown ways to roleplay situations to use “please” and “thank you” or to offer help to a friend in need, as well as using manners at the right time and place. With regular gentile reinforcement, simple scenarios would prompt children to exercise grace, courtesy, and gratitude when the situation requires. So, to help children slow down and plant a seed of gratitude, we can create a PEACE shelf or a corner which would provide a child with a space for regular self-reflection.


Our ☮️PEACE shelf is an inviting place where Julia and Adrian can go to throughout the day to check-in with themselves and observe their ever-changing emotions. With a zen garden to touch and feel, a mindful puzzle to assemble, a smelling box to sensorially stimulate the olfactory sense of smell, children know that they have a place where they can quiet their mind and focus on the present moment.

What is on our ☮️Peace Shelf:

  • Pewter Labyrinth (buy here) with a stylus for 'walking' it. Tracing the labyrinth path is an ancient meditation form often described as a path to wisdom and peace and commonly used as a tool for personal reflection, psychological and spiritual transformation, and comfort. A child would run a fingertip or a stylus along the grooved path. And because labyrinths are right-brain activity enhancers, tracing a labyrinth path is calming for both: adults and children. 
  • Tibetian Singing Bowl (made in Nepal) with leather wrapped wooden stricker (buy here) is one of my children's favorite meditational tools. Once they had learned how to make the bowl "sing" the healing sound is nothing I have heard before.
  • Four Pebbles to accompany a book A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles (buy here - read about it here);
  • Wooden hand-made Dove puzzle (buy here) which symbolizes peace and harmony.
  • Wooden Mandala puzzle (buy here) is hand-painted in ecological colors, presenting an intricate combination of beauty and aesthetics for children to work on peacefully. (Each puzzle is unique and made to order.) 
  • Tibetan Buddhist Wooden Prayer 8 mm Beads Wrist Mala Bracelet (buy here or similar here) is handmade in Nepal and is of exceptional quality.
  • Scented Calming Box (see below);
  • Thai Blessing Zen Buddha statue (buy here or similar here) is a perfect addition to our peace corner as it diversifies our peace education, opening doors to discussing an inspiring story of a prince who renounced the glory and riches in a pursuit of enlightenment. 
  • Zen🕉 Garden Meditation Sandbox (below/buy here) is a type of Mindfulness Meditation: a miniature version of the traditional Japanese meditative garden, where assorted objects provide visual interest and a counterpoint to the garden's serene patterns. (More about Zen Garden here.)

This Zen Garden is also an easy DIY, and all you need to participate in the art of Zen gardening:

  • purified sand (you can also use salt, sugar, polenta or any other tiny grain),
  • small objects: e.g. marbles, polished rocks (we also added a starfish, shark tooth etc.),
  • a small rake,
  • and a tray to contain everything.


Dealing with Conflict

Children are born mindful, and with wisdom we can keep this skill alive: 'Montessori is wonderful in this way'. - The Dalai Lama.


In Montessori ☮️PEACE education, when two children are experiencing conflict, it can be difficult for each child to truly listen to what the other child is saying. To assist with this, one child can hold a symbol of ☮️PEACE, which generally, in a Montessori classroom, is a🌹 rose (we are using a handmade ❤️heart; a 🕊dove can also be used). A child holding it would state why s/he is upset and then pass the ☮️symbol to the other child who then has a chance to respond, passing back and forth until each child had expressed their feelings and felt adequately acknowledged. Finally, reconciliation would end with a handshake signaling ☮️ PEACE. So, when Julia and Adrian would have a disagreement, I would gently remind them to go to their ☮️PEACE corner and retrieve the ❤️ and speak their hearts💖. They would then sit across from each other on the rug and express their frustrations. Let me tell you, it always works and the PEACE is signaled with a hug. (You may download Peace Table Cards with instructions on how to deal with conflict for free here - I had purchased them from here.) 


Building A Peaceful Character


A Peaceful character of the child develops since birth when s/he observes unconditional love, tender care, patience and absence of violence. And "violence" needs not be physical, which is very obvious; at times, phycological violence (taking on a verbal form) can be even more detrimental than physical since it is inconspicuous. Leading by example, by being kind, tolerant and loving, we can show our child that this world can be trusted, that the child can feel safe and secure in it, both outside and inside. And, as the child gets older, you can discuss the pillars, on which a strong loving and peaceful character can be built. 

DSC_0013We are using finger puppets to represent each foundational pillar. 

The six pillars of a Peaceful Character are (download the pdf here or click the link here):

  • Respect
  • Caring
  • Fairness
  • Responsibility
  • Trustworthiness
  • Citizenship.


We can help build a peaceful world by building our own character with values and qualities that would shape our finest thoughts, actions/reactions, and feelings.


One of our PEACE materials is a scented calming box. You can add anything that might calm your child like a cinnamon stick or pieces of lavender, or scented dried fruits. For some reasons, this is the first material both of my children open when they retrieve our PEACE box from the shelf.


  “Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.”  - Maria Montessori.

Our ☮️Peace Inspired📚Books:

  1. Silence Book (buy here) gently encourages children to stop, listen, and reflect on their experiences and the world around them.
  2. If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World's People (buy here) explores the lives of the hundred villagers. Children will discover that life in other nations is often very different from their own. If the World Were a Village is part of CitizenKid: a collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens.
  3. The Listening Walk book (buy here) is one of the children's favorite! Discover your world filled with wonderful and surprising sounds which otherwise get drowned-out in our noisy environment.
  4. A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles book (buy here) shows a child a concrete way to be mindful by connecting to a pebble representing an image of nature.
  5. Meditation Is an Open Sky book (buy here) offers a terrific introduction to simple child-friendly mindfulness/meditation exercises.
  6. What is God? book (buy here) is an eloquent introduction to the ideas behind God and various religion, which brings forward complex ideas in a way children will understand. It is written with a simple clarity and beautifully illustrated with just the right blend of seriousness and humor.
  7. Maria Montessori: A Biography For And By Children book (buy here) is written in a simple child-accessible way and is full of children's drawings depicting the life of Maria Montessori.
  8. Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises for Well-Being book (buy here) offers children gentle series of physical movements based on Yoga and Tai Chi movements, as an approach to Buddhist teachings. Mindful Movements book is a great meditational "yoga" manual: simple enough for a child to follow and substantial enough to provide a simple base for meditational movements.

DSC_0014 For more book ideas, see here "☮️PEACE Education•Have you Filled a Bucket Today? 📚Book."  

IMG_9207Read here 🎥 "Emotions (Body) •Feelings (Mind) ✂️DIY 😃😮😡😢☹️😆Puppets ♻️🚽Craft."

For more about our ☮️PEACE Education, read here "🕉Mindfulness with Children." 

For more on Gratitude and Thanksgiving, read here "🙏Thankful 🌳Tree🍂 • 🦃Thanksgiving Inspired ✂️Craft."

For more on Thanksgiving-Inspired activities, see here "🦃Thanksgiving Inspired Homeschooling 101 Unit Study."