Materials and Toys Feed

🔢Math Simple ➕Addition and ➖Subtractions with LEGO

Recently, 👦🏼Adrian really got into LEGO building: he builds every day, and he would build the entire day (if I let him😉). So, we are LEGO ❤️️fanatics here! This Snow ❄️ Resort Kit (buy here) is actually the 1st LEGO Friends set 👦🏼Adrian built completely independently (without 👧🏻Julia's help and he loved the process!) Aside from allowing a child express creativity and ingenuity, there are so many things you can do with LEGO! 

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Once Adrian was finished, to add a twist to a traditional LEGO building, I wrote down some equations and asked Adrian to reproduce them with LEGO pieces.

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The  "worksheet" (download here) had several basic addition and subtraction equations on it. Adrian would have to build the equation on the board and solve it. 
DSC_0005-2For symbols, I used flat "bumpless" LEGO pieces and simply drew the sign on them with a Sharpie (permanent marker).
DSC_0005-2To provide a control of error, I made sure that each equation sing had the same color, adding a sensorial aspect to this activity. Also, Adrian can sensorily feel little bumps on the pieces while counting to self-correct, triggering tactile learning!

For our Math work: see here a 🎥 video- post "Beginning ➖ Subtraction (Montessori 🔢 Math 🎥Lesson)." For Addition Math work, see here "Montessori Math Simple ➕ Addition using Marble-Counters" and here a 🎥 video-post "➕Addition Strip Board (Montessori 🔢 Math 🎥 Lesson)." Also see here an extension to Montessori Strip Board: "➕Addition Strip Board Making 🔟’s (Montessori 🔢 Math 🎥 Lesson)."

For Holiday posts, here  "🦃Thanksgiving 🌽Inspired DIY Simple ➖ Subtraction Math Lesson."

For more on LEGO, see:

  • here "Learning Fractions with LEGO"
  • here "Julia's Christmas Gift: LEGO Creator Expert Santa's Workshop"
  • here "LEGO Juniors Demolition Site Building Kit"
  • here "Dropper Writing Letter M with LEGO (Language 101 🎥 Series 🎇 Curriculum)"
  • here "LEGO - the Best Investment in a Toy"
  • here "Julia's 7th Birthday Gifts: LEGO Friends"

 Do your children like LEGO? Leave a comment! I love hearing from you!


☮️PEACE Education• Have you Filled a Bucket Today? 📚 Book

One of the six main categories of Montessori Practical Life activities are social lessons on Grace and Courtesy which include developing social skills such as saying please and thank you, learning how to take turns and listen to others, proper table manners, how to interrupt someone, how to speak with an inside/outside voice, or how to turn the page of a book. The emphasis is always placed on the personal dignity of the child and the respect of individual rights. Dr. Maria Montessori strongly believed that a natural companion to Grace and Courtesy is Peace education, having great confidence that if we are able to raise peaceful children, they will, in turn, grow up to be respectful and peaceful adults. “Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future. ... Within the child, lies the fate of the future,” she said. 

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So, to promote ☮️ peace education, we love 📖 reading Have You Filled a Bucket Today? 📚book (buy here). While the book encourages positive behavior by alluding to an invisible bucket to show children how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love by "filling buckets," I had set up an area with a real bucket, scrap-paper, 🖊pencils, and ✂️scissors. 

DSC_0026After reading the book, my children naturally wanted to be "bucket fillers," and to become mindful of that, they would ✍🏻️write daily one thing that filled another's bucket (or their own). Filling one's invisible bucket can be a kind word, a smile, or a hug. Being caring and sharing, being patient and learning to wait a turn, helping each other in play or work also counts as "filling a bucket." There are so many ways to enrich someone's day! 

DSC_0028This had become a beautiful tradition to come to the bucket and retrospect about the day: "What have I done to make another's day brighter? Have I filled someone's bucket today?" These thoughts bring the child to the primary act itself, strengthening the connection between the deed (e.g. a hug) and the result (e.g. happy Mommy). 

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So, our bucket is filled with love notes, hearts, drawings, colorful bookmarks for Mommy and so forth. As such, our bucket helps us be mindful, considerate and compassionate. 

DSC_0028"Adrian filled my bucket by giving me a smile," Julia. 

Dr. Montessori described education, as a "help to life" which starts at birth, feeding a peaceful revolution and uniting all in a common aim, attracting them to a single center. She encouraged Mothers, fathers, and politicians to "combine in their respect and help for this delicate work of formation, which the little child carries on in the depth of a profound psychological mystery, under the tutelage of an inner guide. This is the bright new hope for mankind.” (The Absorbent Mind, p. 15).  So, when my children come to the bucket, they stop, think and reflect: about the day and what they did, mindful qualities which are the core of Montessori espoused Peace education. Thus, I hope that by building a peaceful core, it will prove to be a strong pivoting center for a peaceful adult. And our peaceful education needs not be elaborate: it can be as simple as reading a book and "filling one's bucket" with happy thoughts and happy deeds. 

For more about our ☮️PEACE Education, read here "🕉Mindfulness with Children" and how to introduce it. 


Anatomy Puzzle & DIY Interactive Puppets 🎥 (Inside of the BODY Unit Study)

We are continuing our BODY Anatomy Unit Study by exploring how the amazing body mechanism works. It can be hard for a child to conceptualize what goes on the inside when most of the process remains unseen while taking place on a very small scale. So I try to make abstract concepts concrete with hands-on materials, puzzles and interactive fun so that the child gets a better understanding of how the body works.
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To illustrate different body systems, I made "Organ System Puppets" using recycled ice-pop sticks and interactive LeapFrog stickers which work with Tag Reading System Pen (buy here). LeapFrog interactive human body discovery set (buy here ) includes a jumbo two-sided activity board, which offers a child a hands-on opportunity to learn human body facts, body systems, health nutrition and more. And to make human organs as concrete and tangible as possible, we are also using organs from a Human Torso model (buy here).

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Adrian really enjoys assembling this Boy 5-Layer BODY Wooden Puzzle (buy here) which includes five puzzle systems that exist within the human body: skeletal, respiratory, digestive, muscular, and integumentary system.

By making the learning experience hands-on and interactive, unseen mysteries are being revealed, offering a child a glimpse of the inside of the body!

DSC_0009Muscles make up 40% of your total body weight. To take one step, you use 200 of them! Also, you can be using nearly 2,000 muscles when you wake up in the morning and go to brush your teeth! Muscles cannot push, they rather pull. So a perceived body "push" is actually another muscle's pull. Did you know that it takes triple the amount of muscles to frown than to smile? And, guess what is the strongest muscle in your body - the tongue! 

DSC_0009Our heart, the only muscle that never stops working, is relentlessly supplying our body with life-potent oxygen and nutrients, even when we are sleeping. However, in addition to functioning as a natural pump and producing blood full of oxygen, the heart also creates its own electrical impulse while producing electrical energy as well as blood. Carrying nutrients and oxygen from your heart to the other parts of your body, bloodplays an important part in your body’s function. Laid end to end, an adult’s blood vessels could circle Earth’s equator four times! 
DSC_0009The digestive system has two main functions: to convert food into nutrients the body needs and second, to rid the body of waste. To do so properly, the system requires the cooperation of a number of different organs throughout the body, including the mouth, stomach, intestines, liver, and gallbladder. 

Did you know?

  • The large intestine is actually shorter than the small intestine, only being about 5 feet long in an adult. The intestines are named for how wide they are, not how long they are.
  • 90% of what we eat is assimilated in the small intestine.
  • In your lifetime, the digestive system (mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestines, pancreas, liver) will handle over 50 tons of food and liquid! 

DSC_0029The liver is the largest and most metabolically complex internal organ in humans, performing over 500 various functions such as neutralizing toxins, fighting off infection, manufacturing proteins and hormones, controlling blood sugar and helping to clot the blood. Did you know that the liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself, making it possible for one person to donate part of their liver to another person? 
DSC_0029Humans cannot survive for a long time without oxygen. The longest period a person was ever able to hold the breath was six minutes. Lungs are responsible for receiving, filtering, and distributing that air throughout the entire body.  The surface area of the lungs is very big (up to 800 ft2!) because the inside of the lungs is covered in tiny bumps called alveoli, which help lungs absorb more oxygen all at once. Did you know that your left lung is about 10 percent smaller than your right one?DSC_0009 

Other fun facts about the BODY (for more read here):

  • Human bodies give off a tiny amount of light, which is too weak however for the eye to see.
  • Neuroscientists have found your brain is more active while you sleep than while you are awake.
  • Babies don’t shed tears until they are at least one month old.
  • Human bones are around 31% water.
  • When you listen to music, your heartbeat changes in response to the tempo of what you’re listening to.
  • Your pinky finger is responsible for 50% of your hand’s strength.
  • Our mouth produces about one liter of saliva each day (which equals to more than 2.5 cans of your favorite drink)!
  • The average person has 67 different species of bacteria in their belly button.
  • Scientists estimate that the nose can recognize a trillion different scents!
  • Sneezes regularly escape your nose at more than 100 mph, the speed which is excessive if driving in America.  Coughs often can get up to 60 mph. (That’s about how fast you can drive on most highways.)
  • You lose about 4kg of skin cells every year! (Not to mention losing 100-125 hairs per day, from a stack of about 100,000 hairs on one's head).
  • Human teeth are just as strong as shark teeth.
  • Humans are the only species known to blush - Horray to human humbleness :)

For more on inside of the body materials and activities, see here the "💉 Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study" summary post.


Giraffe (BODY Anatomy Unit Study)

In continuing with our 💉 Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study, today, we are exploring the inside of the giraffe, an animal to whom we all hold a true and innate affection. Relative of okapi, antelope, and cattle, the giraffe is a hoofed mammal, and the tallest animal living on land. The height, due to its long neck, allows a giraffe to feed on leaves and twigs from the tops of trees, food that cannot be reached by any other plant-eating neighbor. 

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Encyclopedia of Animals book (buy here) provides information about the physical characteristics, habits, and behavior of many animals, and is a great source to learn about the giraffe.
DSC_0003We are also exploring a 4D Vision Giraffe Anatomy Model (buy here), which comes with 27 detachable organs and body parts and an illustrated guide book.
DSC_0003A great addition to your child's animal science museum, this anatomy model is exceptionally detailed, with hand-painted organs and parts. 

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The assembly guide offers a description of the giraffe's anatomy, and an insight into the giraffe's life cycle, eating habits, size and more. 

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Giraffes' coat patterns are like human fingerprints: no two giraffes share the same pattern. Each of the nine types of a giraffe can be identified by its pattern.

DSC_0003When grazing on exposed grasslands in Africa, giraffes are constantly on the look out for predators that co-inhabit the dry savannah. The primary predators of the giraffe are lions, who use the strength of the entire pride to catch their victim, but giraffes are also preyed upon by leopards and hyenas. 

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We had a pleasure of seeing giraffes up close and take pictures during our multiple trips to Disney's Animal Kingdom. We were able to observe that despite its size, a giraffe is very graceful, moving both legs on one side at the same time. (For more on Giraffes and its closest relative Okapi, read here a post" African Animals Language Objects Matching Cards and African Savanna Animals at Animal Kingdom Disney").

For more on Inside Body, read here a post about Human Anatomy "💉 Inside of the Body Anatomy Unit Study."


👦🏼Adrian's ✍️ Workbooks Round Up (Montessori 🔠 Language & 🔢 Math)

I believe that good habits form good character. So, as part of Adrian's daily routine (he has a schedule, just like Julia), he writes/traces in his workbooks. I would not say that writing is his favorite part of the day (he still likes to play), but it is something he got used to doing, and it is how we start our day. The goal is to keep up child's motivation until the behavior becomes a habit (which could take a couple months). Eventually, the habit becomes automatic (even enjoyable) instead of something you need to force your child to do. To keep up the motivation, I offer Adrian various workbooks and he picks according to the current mood: it can be Numbers tracing, Letters tracing, Logic Thinking Skills Workbook (buy here) or Spatial Reasoning (buy here) and so forth. 

FullSizeRender 3Today, Adrian (46 months) wanted to trace numbers.

I like the way KUMON workbook guides the child from the dot to the star, or if there are more than one lines to draw, the book offers sequentially numbered steps of proper tracing. 

FullSizeRender 4 Buy Numbers workbook that Adrian is writing in here.
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Below, see a link to a video of Adrian writing down solved mathematical equation at 3.5 years old.
DSC_0019See here a video "✍🏻️Writing Down Solved Equation (Montessori 🔢 Math 🎥 Lesson)."

DSC_0001See here a video post "Refining Straight Lines in 🔠 Uppercase Letter-Writing at 39 months," and here where Adrian was tracing in the same workbook, but a month earlier, at 38 months.

Buy KUMON Uppercase letters here and Lowercase letters workbook here ). 

DSC_0014Also, see here a video post "✍️Tracing ABCs 🐋Animal Flash Cards with a💧Water 🖋️ Pen."

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Finally, see below the video of Adrian spontaneously beginning to write his name at 37 months! Before that, he was just doodling.

20161207-DSC_0531See a video here "1️⃣ First Time ✍️Writing Own name 'Adrian' at 37 months."

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Adrian also loves his BLUE book below (buy here). For girls, there is a similar PINK book (buy here).

DSC_0373.JPGSee here "A ❤️Favorite 📘 BLUE Book at 36 months." 

My Brilliantly Blue Sticker book (buy here) has been Adrian's absolute favorite since he was two years old because of the diversity of subjects (e.g. transportation, dinosaurs, farm animals, solar system etc.,) hands-on application and many-many bright blue stickers!

Does your child have a favorite workbook or book?

Download 👦🏼Adrian's 🗒 weekly schedule here

p.s. You might also want to check out our "🔠 Letter Series (Montessori Language)" posts here which has a lot of links to letter recognition activities we have been doing since Adrian was two years old.