Basil Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Making potions is one of our favorite activities to inspire children in hands-on science activities and start to develop scientific inquiry. Here's a great selection of items for your potion table at home:
After the fun of mixing together a lot of different elements we began to break down the potion making experience into simple (and fun!) science experiments:
Which One Will Dissolve?
Mixing Oil and Water
(we transferred our test tubes to larger ones to enjoy the reactions more!)
Baking Soda and Vinegar Reaction
To further explore the chemical reaction we trapped the carbon dioxide released from the baking soda and vinegar and blew up balloons with the gas!
In art class we have been enjoying a lot of process art based activities! To learn more about Raising Creative Thinkers with Process Art check out our previous blog.
Simple Shapes to Complex Shapes
Use a straw to blow watered down tempera paint to create unique colors and shapes.
Have a lot of paint on your paper? Make a print!
Use rice with watercolors to create interesting patterns and textures.
Shaving Foam Painting!
We Love the Circus!
We made face masks of our favorite circus animals!
Circus Animal Yoga!
Juggling with Scarves!
Ms Hannah led us in some fun parachute 'circus tent' games!
Ms Hannah also taught us some hula hoop moves!
Walking the Tight Rope!
We designed our own popcorn bags and made fresh popcorn!
It's amazing how much kids love to watch popcorn popping! But maybe not as much as they love to EAT the popcorn :)
Ms Symone and Mr Noah gave us an amazing juggling and acroyoga performance for our Circus Party! Thank y'all SO MUCH!!
Even some of the parents joined in!
In the Garden
We have been planting butternuts, watermelons, sweet potatoes, and lots of sweet basil.
We spotted a Monarch Caterpillar feasting on the dill!
2 Awesome Pestos!
While we make at least a dozen different recipes here are 2 of our favorite garden pestos:
Basil Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Blend together 2 cups basil, 1/2 cup garlic olive oil, 1/2 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds, and a few shakes of Himalayan salt. Yum!
We LOVE this Roasted Garlic Olive Oil by Texas Olive Ranch we get at Wheatsville!
Parsley Walnut Pesto
Blend together 2 cups fresh parsley, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup walnuts, and several pinches celtic sea salt. Yum again!
See you next time!
In a world where we are preparing our children for all kinds of unknown professions, it is important to engage children's curiosity and their natural joy for learning. This love of learning along with communication skills, self regulation skills, and the ability to problem solve leads to life long success no matter the profession. Some might think that learning these skills will only happen behind a desk in a typical school environment, but Dimensions Educational Research Foundation's research tells us that children who spend time in well designed, nature filled classrooms with many opportunities to engage with open ended materials and loose parts develop skills across all learning domains.
For generations children have used found materials in their play from rocks and sticks to tin cans and wire. In his article “How NOT to Cheat Children: the Theory of Loose Parts,” the British architect Simon Nicholson coined the term “loose parts” to describe open-ended materials that can be used and manipulated in many ways. Environments, he believed, offer many ways for children to interact with variables such as gravity, sounds, chemical reactions, concepts, words, and people. “In any environment,” Nicholson writes, “both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it”. When children play and create with loose parts, they can move around, making use of any or all of the found objects, devising spaces and structures that can entertain them for hours. They become more creative and flexible in their thinking while satisfying their ever-growing curiosity and love for learning.
In our blog this month 'Learning with Loose Parts' we are highlighting how we introduce and incorporate loose parts into our learning environment with lots of ideas and projects to inspire families to include loose parts in their art and play environments at home. We love to focus on loose parts in April as it's Earth Day month and so many of loose parts are found objects, nature materials, or recycled items - who needs plastic toys??
When first introducing loose parts we like to provide 3 different open-ended items for the children to to create and play with along with the invitation of "I wonder what we could do with these...". Here are a few combinations of what we explored:
Felt Scraps, Popsicle Sticks, and Glitter Glue
"I'm making a boat, a big boat for my whole family."
"It's sparkly! I love glitter glue!"
Tin Foil, Wood Cubes, and Pipe Cleaners
"It's a robot with a robot motorcycle. It goes fast and it has super powers!"
Straws, Yarn, and Washi Tape
"Look at my magic wand!"
Once the kids were clearly comfortable with 3 materials, we started introducing 5 materials to expand the experience.
Buttons, Wire, Tape, Paper Clips, and Ribbon
Clay, Spaghetti, Corks, Pebbles, and Yarn
Collecting, Discovering, and Organizing Materials
After lots of exploring loose parts that the classroom provided, we wanted to investigate what it means to children when they have sought out, discovered, and collected materials themselves.
Each child went home with a paper bag with their name on it and instructions for what types of materials to look for to further study how materials can fuel ideas and thinking.
We gathered in a circle and invited the children to empty their bags one at a time and share any stories or thoughts about the items they collected.
Here is an example of a Developmental Checklist from Fairy Dust Teaching on things to look for while children are playing with loose parts:
TOTE, CARRY, AND PILE
SHAPE & FORM
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
SYMMETRY AND ASYMMETRY
After exploring and playing with the collected items the children came up with categories that we could sort the items into. We separated the items into: paper, metal, plastic, nature, ceramic, cloth/ribbons/yarn, and wood.
As they make decisions about each object and what category it fits, children are learning about the characteristics of different materials and using a rich descriptive vocabulary.
After the organizing stage we created open ended projects with one type of part at a time and then participated in projects where we used all the loose parts together.
Constructing with Wood Scraps
Working with wood scraps and recycled paper materials invites experimental building, thinking in three dimensions, and thinking about space.
The freedom to experiment invites creative and often collaborative solutions. When the children first started constructing they had no definitive goal in mind, but as the process developed they began to form a consensus of what they were making together. They titled this "Our Spaceship Boat!".
Loose Parts from Nature
We classified our nature items into categories: things that came from plants, things that came from animals, and things that did not come from living things.
We also explored how we could use our nature items in play - rocks became homes, leaves became airplanes, and avocado seeds became birds eggs.
As the children continue to explore the "metal things", the objects gleam and glisten and the children begin to notice subtle differences in shape, color, and texture.
The children are delighted to see how easily objects can transform into facial features.
Once the children seemed fluent in the different materials we began some theme-based yet still open ended projects.
DIY Robots with Loose Parts
To make the beginning structure of the robot we wrapped floral foam with tin foil and connected the pieces with small bamboo skewers.
"My robot can turn his head!"
Then we added all kinds of found materials. Most objects can easily be inserted through the tin foil and into the foam. We used glue and stickers for other designs.
To extend the project, some of us made drawings of our robots too!
Self Portrait Collages with Loose Parts
The children were delighted to continue to find items they had personally collected as well as new objects they had never seen before as we engaged in the different projects.
Letters and Numbers
The final collaborative project was to create the alphabet and the numbers 1 to 10 with our collected and sorted loose parts.
Dandelion Flower Cookies
One of the children brought in fresh dandelion flowers from their garden at home so we made our scrumptious dandelion cookies. Check out our previous blog for the recipe.
Some other simple loose parts to introduce to children are:
To celebrate Earth Day we created a collaborative piece where the children formed "earth beads" and decorated our window with them.
Yoga and Mindfulness
We have been incorporating more mindfulness activities into our yoga classes:
Self massage is restorative. Magic Massage stimulates the blood flow to the brain which helps improve concentration skills, while the muscle massage soothes and releases tension.
Allow your arms to be loose and floppy so that they wrap around the front and back of your body as you turn side to side. Notice if there is something you would like to wash out - anger, hurt, feelings, worries? As you swing from side to side, imagine you can feel those things being washed out and away from your body and down into the ground.
Such a fun way to release tension, negativity, or excess energy! With your hands in front of your heart notice if you are carrying around any anger or excess energy inside. Let it bubble up out of your heart into your hands. With an exhale forcefully explode your volcano, making the sound "Pssssh!". Imagine the hot lava leaving your body and mind.
Do My Best
Lift your left knee to your right elbow. Lower and switch sides. As you continue from side to side repeat the following song:
I stand up strong,
just like a tree.
I use my mind,
To focus myself,
and do my BEST!"
This movement crosses the midline of the body and coordinates the information flow between both sides of the brain.
And we've been doing some old favorites too:
In the Garden
Planting and watering baby lettuces we grew from seed :)
And picking and eating fresh carrots!
See you next time!
This March started off with just a few blooms around us. The kids were excited to explore the dogwood and redbud branches found on our property - the first blooms of Austin Springtime.
The kids loved seeing the natural cycle of a dogwood bloom and smelling it's fresh unique scent.
As our early Texas Spring continued we collected wildflowers and native blooms from all over the garden.
Learning to use a magnifying glass is one of our favorite nature table activities!
We were particularly enchanted with the sweet scent of the Texas Mountain Laurel!
The art of flower arranging is a Montessori inspired 'Practical Life' activity!
"It is almost possible to say that there is a mathematical relationship between the beauty of his surroundings and the activity of the child; he will make discoveries rather more voluntarily in a gracious setting than in an ugly one." - Maria Montessori. The Child in the Family.
"Maria Montessori developed practical life activities to help children develop into independent thinking adults. Each step in a practical life activity satisfies the child’s innate desire to imitate the home life skills that children see adults perform around them on a daily basis."
Rhythms of Play
Flower Still Life
After making more bouquets, we created still life drawings with oil pastels!
To preserve our flowers we carefully selected the best ones for our plant press.
Such a great opportunity to incorporate learning about counting, colors, and shapes.
Dried Flower Composition
After Spring Break our flowers were completely pressed and we composed them into our own designs - some with patterns, some with free form - preserved with contact paper.
To extend the activity we did crayon rubbings on top of our compositions and noticed the beautiful texture the flowers and leaves made.
Flowers and Famous Artists
The beauty of flowers is expressed by artists throughout time. In this activity we looked through the Art Masters Sticker Book and were challenged to find 4 paintings each that had flowers in them.
Andy Goldsworthy Flower Projects
Andy Goldsworthy is an amazing British artist who has spent his life collaborating with nature and inspired these environmental art projects.
Monet Flower Puzzles
Taking art books and cutting them into DIY puzzles is a fun and simple way to introduce children to the great artists!
Montessori Flower Puzzle
The Kaleidograph is an award-winning, pattern design toy based on the geometry of crystals and flowers. This paper kaleidoscope makes billions of creative designs by stacking, flipping and rotating die-cut cards.
Banana Flower Snacks
Such a sweet little snack! Excellent for hand-eye-coordination, number sense, and creating healthy, aesthetically pleasing treats.
Simply take banana slices and add pumpkin seeds as petals around the banana. Use a dried mulberry or raisin for the center of the flower. Serve with a smile!
We loved learning about the life cycle of a flower!
A lot of our learning takes place in the natural questions and conversations that come up as we work on various projects. Mr Ben has a wonderful talent of explaining scientific concepts in ways that young children can really grasp the information!
"Why do plants have roots?"
"To keep from getting pulled up"
"The roots are like little straws that drink water from the soil"
"Why do plants have leaves?"
"They get energy from the sun to make food for the plant. When we eat plants we are eating stored sunshine"
"Why do plants have flowers?"
"To make seeds."
"Why do plants have seeds?"
"To make little baby plants and the circle of life continues!"
Seed to Flower Yoga
In Yoga class we are expanding on our 'blooming flower' sequence to include Spanish instruction:
"Florita, florita, porque eres chiquita?
Little flower, little flower, why are you so small?
"Crece, crece, crece
Grow, grow, grow"
"Florita, florita, la vida es bonita.
Little flower, little flower, life is beautiful.
Happy Flower Dance!
Conscious Discipline Breathing
After our blooming flowers we have been practicing our Conscious Discipline breathing tools. Check out our previous blog for more details on how we use these to help with self regulation.
Wishing Well Breath
Planting violas in the veggie and fairy herb gardens! The kids love these pretty colorful flowers in their salads.
Can you count all the fairies visiting our fairy herb garden?
"Why do we have seasons?"
The following experiment explains how seasons work:
We used a globe with a tilt, a heat lamp, and a digital infrared thermometer to see how the tilt of the Earth and the position of the Earth in it's orbit around the sun effect the globe's surface temperature in Austin. We modeled the position of the Earth and Sun for the spring equinox, the autumn equinox, the summer solstice and the winter solstice and measured the different temperatures of Austin on the globe.
This hands on experience really helped the kids understand how the different intensities of light affect the temperature in Austin!
See you next time!
At ACG we love to create dynamic, hands-on learning experiences to help develop essential skills. Check out these 30 fun projects that encourage literacy and language development!
1. Projects with Purpose
Kids are much more motivated to practice reading and writing if they are creating something like a special card, a birthday wish list, or even a grocery list.
Using scissors and other tools helps to make strong motor skills for writing!
Dotted lines help early writers to find confidence in their writing skills.
2. Sewing Letters
In early childhood, children are building their capacity to use their fingers and hands through a variety of activities. Hand sewing helps young readers and writers because it develops not only fine motor skills but the eyes as well.
We used the Montessori technique of 'analysis of movement'; when we are demonstrating a skill we break it down into clear simple steps.
"…the adult should be calm and act slowly so that all the details of his action may be clear to the child who is watching." – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood
We started off sewing the first letter of our names.
Then we made enough letters to start making words and sentences.
3. Fairy Letters
After the sewing exercise the kids were easily able to recognize the first letter of their names with these fairy letter coloring sheets.
A neat way to highlight children's art work is to outline it in sharpie and cut out around the shapes.
The kids loved seeing their alphabet fairies turned into a magical fairyland!
4. The Fairy's Secret Alphabet
Use children's interests as motivation for learning! Our Pre K class is really enjoying learning the sounds of the alphabet. The following project was inspired by Fairy Dust Teaching:
"I love making special gems and jewels to help motivate my students to learn critical skills like letters, letter sounds and sight words.
I have found that it can be highly motivating to students who are struggling. This is most powerful if you introduce the jewels through a little story:
Once, a long time ago, there lived a little fairy. She was no ordinary fairy. She was an Alphabet Fairy. Yup. She wore a beautiful Pink Cape and had a little blue bag. She carried in her very secret bag - secret jewels.
Shhhh - - I will tell you Alphabet Fairy’s secret. (I pull out a blue bag).
Alphabet Fairy loved all the sounds of the letters. One day she was telling her best friend the Tooth Fairy how much she loved letters and their sounds. “I wish I could let children know how special the letters and their sounds are. . . .”
Just then, the Tooth Fairy had an idea. “I know! You could leave one of your special sparkling letter jewels every time a child learns a new letter and it’s sound!”
Alphabet Fairy danced and danced. “Yes! Just think! They could have a bag full of 26 sparkling jewels and love the letters as much as I do!”
From that day on - she shared the jewels with as many children as she could.
(I open the bag and pour a pile of letter jewels in my hand.)
(I tell the children) The Alphabet Fairy has given me the jewels to share with you as you learn your letters and sounds."
5. Letter Collages
Learning to identify and spell your name is a beloved preschool favorite!
6. Matching Letters
7. Tracing Letters
8. Magnetic Alphabet Tracing Board
This fun board encompasses sight, sound, and touch skills as children learn how to write letters by tracing the directional arrows and develop writing motor skills.
The kids love the sound of the magnet pulling the metal balls into the shapes of the letters!
9. Alphabet Maze
We also love this maze board that helps us to master letter identification and alphabet order!
10. Playdough Letters
11. Word Puzzles
Working together on puzzles is a great time for parents or teachers to encourage children to communicate their thoughts and ideas.
12. Alphabet Stencils
13. Alphabet Stamps
Some explored with random letters, creating really long nonsense words.
While others were eager to practice their name mastery.
14. Hieroglyphic Alphabet
The kids loved exploring and matching these hieroglyph stamps while gaining a deeper understanding of the history of our alphabet!
15. Alphabet Crayon Rubbings
The kids were delighted when they saw the first letter of thier name appear as well as other pictures!
16. Book Nook
Providing a comfy spot and a variety of eye-level books supports the independent exploration of pre-readers.
17. Read Aloud
Studies show that reading books aloud to toddlers is important because the earlier children acquire language, the more likely they are to master it.
“You are stretching them in vocabulary and grammar at an early age. You are preparing them to be expert language users, and indirectly you are going to facilitate their learning to read.
Encouraging older children to sound out words and explaining what a word means if it isn’t clear in the context of the story will help build children’s vocabularies.
Allowing children to pick the books they are interested in and turn the pages themselves keeps them active and engaged in learning.
Reading to children also teaches them to listen, and good listeners are going to be good readers."
- Dominic Massaro
For more details on the research read:
“Two Different Communication Genres and Implications for Vocabulary Development and Learning to Read” by Dominic W. Massaro, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2015
19. Nature Letters
First we explored making letters out of sticks, forming the alphabet, and writing our own names.
Then we added letters on stones too!
Using nature-inspired loose parts to make letters and words creates a beautiful expression of language.
20. Yoga Letters
These ABC Yoga cards by Rainbow Kids Yoga are so much fun! The kids loved doing the poses for the first letter of their names!
As we did our letter posture we also made all the different sounds the letters can make!
21. Read a Recipe
How we love to add nutritious ingredients to our favorite recipes :)
The kids loved these Sweet Potato Avocado Brownies! And it was fun learning to read the recipe together on the outdoor chalkboard.
Mix together the above ingredients and add 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt and 2 TBS melted coconut oil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
The kids gave these a thumbs up!
22. The Language of Poetry
We were inspired by this Valentine book by Gail Gibbons to explore some poetry!
The kids especially enjoyed these haikus so we came up with a cool haiku project below.
23. Heart Haikus!
This was such a fun original idea! We wrote out nature inspired, one syllable, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and a couple of prepositions on heart shaped sticky notes. Then the kids counted out the haiku rhythm of 5, 7, 5.
The readers had fun carefully selecting their words.
The pre-readers enjoyed randomly choosing their words and being surprised when the finished product is read to them.
24. Rhyming Poetry
These poetry books by Jane Yolen were an intriguing way to introduce rhyming while also integrating nature, counting, and color.
By far, the favorite book of the month is Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas. Just say "No Bob!" to the kids and expect riotous laughter :)
25. Montessori Phonetic Reading Blocks
These are a fun way to learn about different vowel sounds and practice rhyming.
26. Poetry Pebbles
These poetry pebbles provided a fun opportunity to express our imaginations and a rich experience in oral language and storytelling.
27. Storytelling with Blocks
After reading "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" by Mo Willems the kids crafted their own story by creating a huge bus that can fit all the pigeons on the planet!
And these guys created bridges for the troll from the classic fairy tale Three Billy Goats Gruff. There were some excellent troll impersonations!
28. Beading Hearts
While not an obvious literacy activity, we presented the beads and sorting tray in a left-to-right order. Materials in Montessori Education are presented in this order as an indirect preparation for reading and writing.
29. Educational Texts
Incorporating a variety of texts into projects and play introduces children to all the different ways language can be used to communicate ideas as well as unusual or difficult words that are new to them.
30. Use Descriptive Language
When snacking in the garden it's fun to explore new and interesting words to describe our experience - the broccoli flowers are "crunchy, ticklish, fragrant".
See you next time!
STEAM is a developing educational model of how the traditional academic subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) can be organized into an integrative framework which creates an interconnected learning experience.
STEAM is a way to teach how all things relate to each other. There is a lot of research suggesting that integrating these subjects, especially adding a creative component with art, is beneficial for students. This emergent methodology is more fun than traditional methodologies and makes more sense to all types of learners as it is based on the natural ways that people learn. STEAM activities are usually hands-on, exploratory, and inquiry-based.
Outer Space has always attracted the attention of young children. Outer Space exploration helps to address fundamental questions about our place in the Universe and the history of our solar system. Children are naturally looking for explanations and trying to understand everything in their environment. Combining STEAM education with learning about outer space leads to natural learning at its finest!
Check out our 'out of this world' projects this month with a STEAM lens:
Understanding our Solar System!
We used real photos from NASA of the sun and the planets with watercolors and different sizes of coffee filters to create a sun-catcher solar system for our front windows.
Creative Solar Systems!
"When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty."
"I made an asteroid belt!"
Solar System Puzzles!
This 200 piece Solar System puzzle took a little teacher help but it was amazing how long the kids concentrated to finish it!
The Scale of our Solar System!
Integrating math into our learning was fun with this interactive activity.
Each step equals 36 million miles. The kids were amazed at how many miles there are between the planets.
The pumpkin was the sun. Mercury was 1 step, Venus was 2 steps, Earth was 3 steps, and Mars was 4 steps from the sun.
Jupiter was 13 steps, Saturn was 25 steps...
... and all the way down the garden Uranus was 47 steps and Neptune was 77 steps from the sun! That's far!
“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.”
Comets, Telescopes, and Famous Astronomers!
Looking for an awesome spot to go camping in Central Texas? Try out Canyon of the Eagles - it's where the UT astronomy department has their telescopes and there are Star Parties most evenings that children are welcome to!
This Twinstar Telescope is not bad! We were able to see the daylight moon and a magnified version of the tops of the trees quite clearly.
The kids were amazed at how people were able to tell the time of day simply by placing a stick in the ground and tracking the movement of shadows.
We love our blocks! We made a space station for our astronaut "Flying Frank", as well as a Martian community complete with Mars Rovers.
The kids were creating space stations all over the garden too!
Creating an Astronaut Journey!
Astronauts Academy Training - Obstacle Course
A collaborative art project leads to hours of imaginative play that sparks more of an interest for further learning.
Watching and counting down with this Space Shuttle Launch was seriously exciting!
The rocket went at least 30 feet up and got stuck in the treetops!
Straw Rockets are an excellent opportunity for children to practice the engineering design process.
Check out this link for directions and a template to make the rockets at home.
After playing with their rockets the kids were then challenged to modify the design to see how the changes impact the rocket performance. Length, fin shape or angle can be changed–one variable at a time–to see how the rocket launch performs, and compares to the control design.
We tried pointing the straw at different angles and blowing harder/less hard to see how the flight of the rocket was affected.
There are two forces acting on the straw rocket. Gravity is pulling it down while the force from you blowing the straw is pushing it forward. These two forces combined give a curved movement. A real rocket needs to overcome the gravitational force downwards.
We loved these resourceful books to practice our ABC's!
Yoga Journey to Outer Space!
We started off our Astronaut Adventure by stretching our arms up high to put on our big astronaut helmets.
Then we stretched out our legs one by one and put on our huge astronaut boots.
We crawled into our small rocket ships and counted backwards from 10 to 1.
"3 - 2 - 1 Lift off!"
Travelling in space we saw some "bright stars!"
and "falling stars".
The kids have creative control of our journey and they wanted to go to the moon and see some aliens!
Then we became peaceful warriors to create peace with the aliens.
When we were ready to go back home we got in our rocket ships and counted backwards from 10 to 1 again.
" 3 - 2 - 1 Lift-off!"
We landed back on earth, strong and proud from our great voyage.
For more on STEAM learning check out our previous blog!
See you next time!
Winter is often thought of as a season of peace with the snow (yes we had some in Central Texas this year!), the holidays, and the shift into a fresh new year. Children often ask what peace means. They hear the expression “Peace on Earth” but they don’t always understand the concept. Different families and cultures view peace in many ways; from harmony with neighbors and acceptance of one another, to personal well-being and calmness in our hearts.
"Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child"
Our Peace Curriculum at Austin Children's Garden is deeply rooted in Maria Montessori's work in Peace Education. While we draw from many educational philosophies to create our unique learning community, our years of teaching in Montessori schools have been integral in creating an environment to support young peacemakers.
Montessori recognized children as the redeeming factor in the evolution of humankind. In order to bring about a world of peace and tolerance it is important to focus and teach peace early. Having a peace curriculum is a sure way to prepare our children to be peace-seekers. Dr. Montessori said “…we must gather together all the elements of the world and organize them into a science of peace.”
There are many forms and layers of peace. To think about what peace is and how it can be practiced means analyzing possibilities for its application. The Peace Flower diagram provides a simple, concrete framework upon which teachers and parents can focus on.
The Montessori Peace Flower- The Four States of Peace Awareness:
Self Awareness - An awareness of how we are thinking, feeling, and behaving. It means being mindful about thoughts, words, and actions.
Community Awareness - An awareness of other people in the community and the nature of relationships we have with people, especially people with whom we interact every day. Community radiates out from each individual to include family, other students, teachers, school staff, neighbors, shopkeepers, etc.
Environmental Awareness - An awareness of what the earth needs to stay healthy and how individuals, communities, and cultures treat the earth.
Cultural Awareness - An awareness and appreciation of the differences in people’s attitudes, beliefs, practices, customs, and social behavior.
In Early Childhood, we spend a significant amount of time on the first petal of Self Awareness. We want to help identify and name all of the various feelings the child will have, and help them know that all feelings are okay and give them tools to process their feelings in a healthy way. Continuing to move outward, we want to show them what appropriate actions they can do with these feelings. We then want the child to begin to contemplate and meditate upon their actions before they are performed.
While concentrating on the first petal of self awareness, our overall goal is to help the child move from a less egocentric state to one of community, environmental, and ultimately cultural awareness.
Here are an abundance of projects, activities, and resources to support creating peace and well being in our children and cultivating the peacemakers of tomorrow!
By now all the kids should know - what's the first thing we can do to calm down when we start to feel upset?
(We were inspired to make these breathing and counting beads from a camp our son attended at Yogapeutics, a positive and fun aerial yoga class that incorporates mindfulness and sensory integration. Check out their awesome weekly classes and camps!)
First we decorated our popsicle sticks with markers and stickers.
Then with one side of a pipe cleaner taped to the popsicle stick we counted out 8 beads and beaded them onto the pipe cleaner.
After our beads were on we taped down the other side of the pipe cleaner.
To use the breathing beads we moved all the beads to one end of the pipe cleaner.
Then we breathed in as we slowly moved one bead to the other end of the pipe cleaner, matching movement and breath.
On the exhale, we moved another bead.
We repeated for the remaining beads and then moved the beads back, one by one, to the beginning.
You can also use the breathing beads for encouraging longer breaths by counting to 4 beads per inhale and 4 beads per exhale.
Such a fun tool that really helps us to slow down and focus on our breathing!
The kids loved these cards made by Yoga 4 Classrooms!
We had some delightful conversations on what it means to be peaceful. Being quiet is one way to be peaceful, but there are many other ways to practice peace. Peace is an attitude we create with our thoughts, words, and actions. Here are some ideas the kids came up with of how we can practice peace everyday:
"Sing with my mommy"
"Give lots of hugs and give presents"
"We give presents to kids who don't have any presents"
"Hug my brother"
"Smile and be nice"
We feel peaceful when we think positive thoughts! The kids loved coloring and painting these positive messages and then making collages out of them.
Peace Fortune Tellers
We loved making these Peace Fortune Tellers from The Peace Booth.
How Can We Create Peace?
Inspired by these great books we created a community poster and a classroom declaration of peace.
The Peaceful Classroom is a wonderful resource and has inspired a lot of our activities in learning about compassion and cooperation!
"If we are to teach real peace in this world... we shall have to begin with the children."
A lovely Montessori practice is to use the Peace Flower method to help preschoolers learn how to problem solve. Similar to a "talking stick" if there is any conflict each child has an opportunity to speak respectfully while they are holding the flower.
Fold the tissue paper into rectangles.
Twist a pipe cleaner stem onto the middle.
Trim of the edges so they are rounded.
Carefully separate the tissue paper into beautiful flower petals.
The Peace Flower method of problem solving allows children to recognize and express their own feelings as well as learn respect for the other child’s feelings.
A basket containing the peace flower is made available to the children at all times. When a conflict arises one child will get the Peace Flower. While holding the Peace Flower the child can express what they did not like or how they feel to the other child. When they are done they pass the flower to the other child.
Respect for the other persons turn to talk is stressed. The children are encouraged to use “I” words such as “I didn’t like it when you hit me”. We use kind language when holding the Peace Flower.
When the two children reach a solution or simply get over their difficulty they put their hands on the flower and say, ‘we declare peace’, or ‘friends’.
The Positive Classroom
All the teachers and volunteers at ACG receive training in Nonviolent Communication. When we work with the kids we use vocabulary words that are free of judgement but express authentic feelings. The list below is just a partial list.
Here are some of the words that might express your Feelings:
Here are some of the words that might express your Needs:
Here are some words for feelings when your Needs aren’t met:
For more details on NVC and how to use it with young children check out this article by Marion Badenoch Rose Ph.D.:
The Heart of Parenting: Nonviolent Communication in Action
The Peace Basket
Every home and classroom needs a Peace Basket filled with tools for young peacemakers. Here we have our classroom peace flower, a meditative finger labyrinth, a calming mind jar, arnica based "boo boo cream" and noise cancelling headphones for sensitive ears.
The kids love using this simple finger labyrinth!
Check out our previous blog to learn how to make your own calming mind jar at home!
This project was like a community quilt for all ages. The puzzle consists of large, interchangeable, blank puzzle pieces. Each person decorates one or more puzzle pieces in his or her own style and then we put all the pieces together to create our unique group puzzle!
We made our own peace flags with beautiful beeswax crayons and a PEACE stencil.
The kids were delighted when they took off their stencil to reveal the word PEACE!
Peace on Earth - Peace Signs
We loved this tape resist "Peace on Earth" project! We mixed blue and yellow water color on paper plates to look like the blue water and green land of the earth and then peeled off the tape to show a peace sign.
Picasso Peace Doves
A beloved emblem of world peace, the dove, comes to life in this moving story that introduces Pablo Picasso and his art to young children.
We created our own doves of peace with sparkling water colors and a print of Picasso's - The Dove of Peace.
We put all our art projects together to decorate our Peace Corner in the classroom.
We created a variety of beeswax candles to help us Sing Peace Around the World.
Hint - if the beeswax is a little tough to mold in the cold weather - try a hair dryer!
At circle time we learned the song Light a Candle for Peace which is a classic Montessori Peace Day project. For more details on the project - check out World Community.
"Light a candle for peace
Light a candle for love
Light a candle that shines all the way around the world
Light a candle for me
Light a candle for you
That our wish for world peace
Will one day come true!"
Community Garden Salad
Taking care of our garden and creating food together is a wonderful way for us to practice our environmental awareness!
To prepare the salad we ripped up the collards into bite sized pieces and washed it in the salad spinner.
Oh the joys of salad spinning!!
We added a fresh orange from our orange tree!
Scooped out some yummy avocado...
...and made a simple dressing of fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
Check out our Facebook page for pics and the recipe for this delicious carrot cake we made with this HUGE carrot for our Winter Solstice Potluck!
In Science class we have been learning all about the amazing properties of water and how to take care of the earth to protect clean water.
The Secret of Water
Dr. Masaru Emoto's stunning water-crystal photographs have enchanted millions of people in his many books. His groundbreaking work has shown that thoughts and words have a direct effect on water- crystal formation, and since our bodies are mostly water, our thoughts and words certainly affect not only ourselves but the world around us. In The Secret of Water, Dr. Emoto brings water's message of love, peace, and hope to the next generation in his first children's book. This book offers an understanding of water that will encourage parents and children alike to value and give thanks to our most precious resource.
To learn more about Dr. Emoto's work check out the Emoto Peace Project.
The kids loved reading this book and looking at the pictures of the different water crystals and then took to their water play with extra respect and gusto!
Since ancient times music and singing have been considered powerful healing tools. We love listening to World Music from Putumayo Kids to learn about other cultures and discovering new peaceful music at the library.
Every day we have the opportunity to make the world a more peaceful place. We start by teaching children how to be kind, how to care for one another, how to solve problems, by making sure all children feel a sense of love and belonging, and instilling a feeling of connection to our planet and it's many cultures.
How does your family practice peace? Let us know in the comments below!
Children use their senses to explore and try to make sense of the world around them. They do this by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, moving and hearing.
We love to provide opportunities for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world. ‘Sensory play’ is crucial to brain development – it helps to build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways.
This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills.
To start off our unit on the senses we searched out our first Sit Spots. We first learned about Sit Spots from Earth Native Wilderness School - and if you haven't had a chance yet to check out Earth Native - you must! They have amazing camps, preschool programs, workshops and more!
In our Sit Spots we focused on our senses and discussed all the different sensations we experienced.
We listened to all the sounds around us and heard:
With our eyes closed we touched our surroundings and felt:
With our eyes closed we smelled our surroundings and smelled:
With our eyes open we focused on what we could see:
We focused on what we could taste in the air and had some surprising responses:
Our Sensory Garden!
We planted a garden for each of the 5 basic senses!
The kids digged their own holes with a spoon and learned how to gently loosen the roots of the baby plant before planting.
In our Scent Garden, as it is pretty shady, we planted many different varieties of mint:
In our Taste Garden we planted many different seasonal herbs:
Fennel (fun taste test to do with the dill as they look so similar)
In our Listening Garden we planted grasses and plants with crispy leaves that make interesting sounds. Adding windchimes and windmills enhance the listening quality of the garden.
In our Touch Garden we planted a variety of plants with soft leaves, interesting textures, and rubbery succulents.
In our Sight Garden we planted edible flowers with all the colors of the rainbow!
Sensory Learning with Herbs!
Herbs add a wonderful aspect to sensory learning - their scents, textures, colors and tastes invite a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity from young learners!
We gathered fresh herbs to make a Relaxing Sunset Tea and Fresh Herbal Salts.
Relaxing Sunset Tea
Rolling the lemon balm leaves in your hands helps to release the fresh calming aroma. Lemon Balm is a lovely herb to use with children and really easy to grow!
Kids love using hibiscus too as the swirly pink quickly colors the water!
Salt Preserved Herbs
Using salt to preserve herbs is a tried and true method that dates back centuries. The fresh herbs permeate every ounce of the salt mixture that releases and preserves the garden harvest.
We funneled our mixture into amber glass bottles and made our own label designs! The herbal salts will keep fresh in the fridge for up to a year.
We learned more about the relaxing properties and sweet scent of lemon balm with these fun coloring pages from the Herb Fairies.
Melissa officinalis is the scientific name for lemon balm!
Spice Scented Playdough
First, we explored the different scents, tastes, textures, and qualities and then matched the original plant to the powdered form.
Combine the flour, spices, and salt and mix well. Then add the oil and water. Mix and knead until well blended. Add more water and oil if too dry, more flour if too wet.
The Many Benefits of Sensory Play!
Check out Creative Sense for a great resource for sensory materials and ideas.
Oh the wonders and fun of mud play! The kids loved getting messy and decorating their personal pies with shells, flowers, and leaves.
"Scientists have now confirmed something that children have always instinctively known; playing in mud is a joyful experience. Recent research has shown that dirt contains microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium Vaccae which stimulates the immune system and increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, an endorphin that soothes, calms, and helps us to relax. Scientists say regular exposure to the bacteria may help reduce a child’s vulnerability to depression. In short, playing in mud makes you happier!
Mud is also an excellent medium for learning. The same release of serotonin that occurs when playing in Mycobacterium Vaccaedirt has also been shown to improve cognitive function. And the rich, engaging sensory play children partake in while playing with mud allows them to express their creativity while enhancing their fine motor skills. Children practice social skills such as cooperation, negotiation, communication, and sharing as they work together. Emergent math and science skills are practiced as children make before and after comparisons, solve problems, test theories, and measure and count ingredients for their mud pies. This is the scientific process in action!
Mud is a wonderful art medium, it is in ample supply, can be easily molded to create endless sculptures, and responds differently than clay or play dough. The open-ended nature of mud encourages creative thinking and allows children to freely create without fear of making mistakes. This also contributes to a child’s sense of self, helping to build a strong inner sense of competency.
Mud play is inclusive of all children. It allows children to play at their own developmental level. Mud is an open ended material that meets the diverse needs and interests of different children. Younger or less skilled children might focus on the sensory experience whereas older children may have more specific goals in mind for their mud play. Allow children to explore the mud at their own comfort level. With mud, there is something for everyone and there are no wrong answers.
Playing in the mud inspires children to feel a connection to nature and develop an appreciation for the environment. Many children today have limited opportunities to play outdoors and it is difficult to care about the environment if you have not had the chance to spend time in nature. By providing time outdoors and the chance for muddy, messy play, you facilitate a love of the earth."
Need a quick sensory play activity to keep your little one busy and happy?
Shaving foam with food coloring is so much fun!
Corn Meal is another wonderful, abundant medium that kids love to feel and play in. Cooking dinner and want to keep your 'helper' occupied? Put out a large roasting dish of corn meal to play with!
For this activity the kids were blindfolded as they searched for hidden treasures with their fingers and tried to identify what they found through touch alone.
This is a fun recipe that is easy to whip up and highly entertaining!
This is a special type of kinetic sand that really holds it's shape when molded together and then efortlessly turns back into loose sand again - fascinating stuff!
"This is a blue bee swimming until he gets sucked into a volcano!"
Sand Box Play!
Good ol' fashioned sand is such a great sensory experience for kids as they explore their sense of touch and play and discover with the wonderful texture of sand!
Painting with Tea Bags!
Easy Tie Dyed Socks!
These would make such cool holiday gifts! Simply use different colors of sharpies on white socks. Then blend the colors with drops of alcohol.
Awesome ingredients for a potion table:
We went hunting for colorful leaves and flowers and created pretty pieces for the nature table.
Carrot Taste Test!
Which carrots taste better to you? Orange, yellow, magenta, or white?
Thumbs up! Orange carrots are the winner!
We loved this simple Fall activity! Such a fun way to introduce sewing techniques. Their focus was amazing!
Painting to Music!
"Before you start, examine the front cover illustration of 'Duke Ellington - The Piano Prince and His Orchestra' by Andrea Davis Pinkney. See if your child can guess what the green swirls are. After you have finished the story, look at the cover illustration again and discuss it. Look through the book for other pictures showing the different colors of music. Then set out a variety of paint colors for your child to use and play Masterpieces by Ellington: “Sophisticated Lady” in the background while you paint on one half of the page.
Next listen to Masterpieces by Ellington: “Mood Indigo”. Without telling your child the title of the piece, ask what colors he hears when he listens to the music. If you like, you can tell him the title and explain that indigo is a blue color. Get out the colors for today’s painting as directed by your child, and have him paint a picture while listening to the piece again on the other half of the paper."
Waldorf Curriculum - an awesome free resource!
Compare how the 2 pieces of music and art are different!
Can You Find Your Lemon?
Each child picked out a lemon and examined it carefully for distinguishing features and then put it back in the bowl.
Try to find your lemon by looking for the bumps, ridges and colors you noticed before. The kids were great at actually finding their original lemon!
Blending Colors with Q-tips!
Edible, Smellable, Paint!
These edible paints made by GLOB actually smell and taste like the plants they are made from!
We explored rhythms and tried out different utensils as drumming tools to compare the difference in sounds.
DIY Music Shakers!
So fun to create these shakers with toliet paper tubes, neon paint, glitter washi tape, stickers, and markers.
A teacher secretly put rice, almonds, small rocks, and navy beans into two shakers for each item - then secured the shakers with penguin duct tape.
Sound shakers are an amazingly fun and fairly simple Montessori material from the Sensorial Area of the classroom that helps children hone their Auditory Senses.
Exploring Sound With Different Instruments
Garden Gratitude Yoga!
In addition to our five familiar senses of vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch, we have two additional "inner" senses. These two senses are called vestibular (inner ear/balance) and proprioception (joints/heavy work). The sensory benefits of yoga for kids is impressive!
In November we like to put an extra focus on gratitude. In Yoga class we did poses of things in nature that we are grateful for.
Benefits: This pose is a great warm up to the other poses and helps devolop core strength, flexibility, and posture while providing some gentle proprioceptive input.
Benefits: Whenever the head is inverted, the vestibular system gets a rush of input. Many kids crave this. The extra weight placed on the arms is great proprioceptive input, helping kids be more aware of their bodies.
Benefits: Balance is key with this pose. This makes the vestibular system kick it up a notch. The inner ear has to work hard to keep the body upright.
Benefits: This move helps with coordination, leg strength, and a deep pressure (proprioceptive input) into the legs.
Benefits: This is a great pose for the core. There’s also the added benefit of all the proprioceptive pressure on the back while they roll out of the pose.
Here's a great resource to practice some of these poses at home!
Cultivating gratitude has been shown to help increase children’s happiness and self-esteem, while also improving their relationships with others.
Continue the learning at home by creating a gratitude journal with your child. Journaling is a great way for children to express creatively, self reflect, practice fine motor skills, and develop an appreciation for the people and things in their lives. Below are some tips for getting started.
1. Create the journal
Bind together different colors of construction paper. Encourage your child to decorate a cover for the journal using markers, crayons, stickers or photographs. On each blank page of the notebook, write “I am grateful for” at the top. We tried to leave several blank pages for you to continue the process at home.
2. Integrate journaling into your child’s routine
Determine the best 5-10 minutes each day for your family to sit down and journal without interruptions. Have your child draw, write or describe to you items that he is grateful for. Consistency is key for developing a habit, so try to follow the same sequence of events each day (i.e. dinner time, journal time, bath time, bed time).
3. Give prompts if needed
Expressing gratitude might not come easily at first for your child and that’s okay. Prompt him by asking questions, such as “Who is a family member or friend you are grateful for and why?”, “What is one thing you enjoyed doing today?” or “What is one of your favorite toys?” Ask your child to draw a picture and if age appropriate, write a few words describing the drawing. Model positive behavior by sharing your own moment of gratitude for the day.
4. Set small goals
Set a short term goal with your child, such as journalling each day in November. At the end of the month, remind your child of the fun they had by reviewing the entries together. You might be surprised to learn that your child wants to continue using the gratitude journal! If so, brainstorm a new goal and create a new journal if necessary.
It's never too early to start cultivating an attitude of gratitude!
We offered some scratch 'n' sniff stickers to increase the sensory benefits!
And don't forget to donate to our fundraiser for a new block center for the kids at:
No amount is too small to make a difference!
See you next time!
Here at ACG we love to play with our food! These Banana Ants are a fun way to learn about the different body parts of an ant.
We learned that all insects have 3 body parts as we connected the head to the thorax and the thorax to the abdomen with pretzel sticks.
Ants use their antennas partially like we use our noses, to smell things (they also use them for touch). When an ant meets another ant, it will touch it with its antennas to pick up any scents. The ant can tell if an ant is a member of its own colony from its smell!
We connected the eyes with sunflower seed butter. Ants have compound eyes made from many tiny lenses connected together. Check out this cool camera that allows humans to see the way insects can!
We had fun pretending to be predator bugs - beetles, spiders, and caterpillars... as we devoured our banana-ant prey!
We loved reading these great books to learn more about these fascinating creatures:
The kids have been enthralled with our new ant farm! They can really see how the ants create tunnels and carry food around.
We created some really cool ant tunnels with a tape resist technique. Tape resist art is a fun process based experience! So fun and simple to try at home.
We mixed together blue, red, and yellow to make brown paint.
The kids love tearing off the tape to reveal their designs!
Ants dig their tunnels so they have a place to live. If they stayed on the top of the ground things like birds or lizards might eat them. Also, the temperature is better underground. It is not windy, away from the rain or snow, cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
"I'm building a nest for the baby eggs!"
Spider Webs! Chalk on black paper makes really cool webs!
We collected items from nature and then researched different bugs with insect field guides. The kids created some really beautiful bugs!
Looking for a very special holiday present this year? This Spielgaben set is a collection of very high quality learning materials with endless possibilities. We really enjoyed creating different insects with the fun colorful shapes.
We explored even more mathematical principles with these bug-inspired patterning and sequence cards.
These over-sized toy bugs are a huge hit! We had fun matching them to our specimen collection and playing bug attack with them.
Make your own bug stickers! Combining stickers AND stamps? So much fun!
We love the quality of these beautiful stamps! The kids were delighted in how many different types of bugs they could identify after all our projects.
Stained Glass Bugs!
Creepy Crawly Yoga
We had so much fun creating bug yoga poses:)
The kids love finishing class with these chimes - it takes a lot of concentration!
And of course we celebrated the Mighty Pumpkin this month!
The kids LOVED these crunchy pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds).
We simply scooped out the seeds, left the flesh on the seeds, coated them in coconut oil and salt, and roasted them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Halloween Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Muffins!
Prep your chocolate chunks by hammering 1/2 a bar of dark chocolate in a sandwich bag.
The pumpkin had been de-seeded and baked at 350 for 45 minutes. Once cool scoop out the cooked pumpkin.
Crack and whisk together 3 eggs.
Mix into the eggs 1/3 cup cooked pumpkin, 1/3 cup honey, 1/4 cup coconut oil, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Mix together 1/3 cup coconut flour with 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking soda, chocolate chunks and a pinch of salt and combine with the wet pumpkin mix.
Spoon into a greased mini-muffin tin and bake for 12 - 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Such a healthy and yummy Halloween treat!
"I'm making a big pumpkin!"
No-Mess Color Mixing Pumpkins!
Paper Pumpkins! Check out these awesome scissor skills!!
Bunnies love kale!
Kids love kale too!
We planted carrot, beet, lettuce, spinach, sugar snap peas and cilantro seeds in the garden. Little hands are the sweetest seed planters :)
The kids started spontaneously painting the playhouse and it turned into quite an artistic feat!
Finger painting too!
Rain doesn't stop us!
The kids love making (and eating!) these banana-dogs. Simply spread sunflower seed butter on a tortilla and roll a banana up in it. Slice to make cute little 'banana sushis'.
We Love Our Blocks!
These awesome blocks and our water table were the result of fundraisers with our parent community - Please check out our 2017 fundraiser below!
We are raising funds for a whole new indoor block center for our schoolhouse! This block center will include 4 different sets of blocks which are all mathematically modular, along with ramps, cars, trucks, toy people (all hand-made with beautiful wood) that can be used together to create endless play and possibilities. These blocks are crafted by Community Playthings (just like our outdoor blocks and water table above) where they use the finest materials and care in their products.
Blocks are one of the most powerful learning tools for young children, enriching every area of the curriculum and supporting child development.
Please help Austin Children's Garden have an amazing new indoor learning center! We are hoping to raise all the funds before the holidays so the children can play and learn with them as the weather gets cooler. Please consider donating to the fundraiser in lieu of any holiday teacher gifts - seeing the kids happy and creating with these beautiful learning materials is the best gift we could imagine!
And please pass this on to any family or friends that might want to donate - no amount is too small!! You can write a check directly to Community Playthings and put it in the black mailbox in the schoolhouse or go to our GoFundMe campaign:
Check out all the wonderful skills our kids are learning when they play with blocks:
See you next time!
What a wonderful new school year we are having! We love to start a new year with lots of fun group activities that promote cooperation and kindness while getting to know our new group of friends.
These Kindness Books by Scholastic are a great way to begin learning how to cultivate kindness:
We made our own Kindness Books with positive messages like "we can help someone"...
..."we can take turns"
... "we can clean up our toys"
... and "we can play together".
The kindness activities led to a conversation about School Rules - the kids brainstormed all the possible rules we could have in school.
We simplified our rules to 3 simple ones everyone can understand.
1. Be Kind - we support being kind with reminders of "use gentle hands", "we respect our toys by taking good care of them", "we treat our friends how we want to be treated".
2. Be Safe - we support being safe with reminders of "walking feet inside", "we clean up our toys so we can walk well", "chairs are for sitting on, not for standing on".
3. Gentle Voices - using a gentle voice inside helps everybody feel calm and safe.
And then we made beautiful posters together to put our rules up on the wall!
While we painted we talked about how we like to be treated - everyone agreed with 'NICE'!
We loved reading these beautiful books on how to make friends!
These Friendship Bracelets are so much fun! With each color we put on our bracelet we would ask a new question to get to know our friends better:
Yellow - What's your favorite movie?
Blue - What is your house like?
Green - What do you like to eat?
Pink - What are some of your favorite things to do for fun?
Then if we felt like it we would give our bracelet to another friend in our group!
We made Friendship Cuffs to give to eachother out of recycled tp tubes with stickers, glitter glue, and dot markers.
The kids worked hard strengthening their finger muscles to get the glitter glue out of the tube...
... and were so proud once they got it!!
Friendship Fruit Salad
We didn't get many pics from this activity - but the kids loved taking turns to prepare the different fruits and then combine them to enjoy together!
These guys were inspired to paint rainbow stripes together!
The kids did a wonderful job cleaning their brushes between colors.
We loved this Montessori-inspired Color Sorting activity!
Planting and snacking in the garden :)
Building Blocks Together!
These guys built a seesaw together!
We got into groups and engineered some very interesting structures!
Fun times at the water table!
We love our new microscope and cool bugs at the Nature Table!
See you next time!
Throughout the year we ask the kids what they are most interested in learning about and dinosaurs were on top of the list this August!
We loved reading these great books to learn all about these ancient creatures:
We learned that dinosaurs are reptiles and are hatched from eggs.
We made these fun 'dinosaur eggs' with water balloons in the freezer and the kids hatched their baby dinosaurs by melting them in the sun, using hammers, and using droppers with salt water.
We conducted an experiment to compare the rate of melting the eggs in the shade vs melting the eggs in the direct sunlight and used calculators to determine our results.
We created a dinosaur habitat for our friends to play and learn in.
“I think the reason kids like dinosaurs so much is that dinosaurs were big, different from anything alive today, and extinct. So they are imagination engines.”
Jack Horner, the paleontologist who discovered the Maiasaura and served as a technical advisor for the Jurassic Park films.
We learned how humans discovered dinosaurs through fossils of their bones.
DIY Dinosaur Fossils
We made our own dinosaur fossils out of terracotta clay to take home!
We became paleontologists and went on a fossil hunt!
We glued different sizes of macaroni together to learn how the skeletal system of the T-Rex and Brachiosaurus fit together. It's also a great activity to work in some essential counting skills!
We turned toy dinosaurs into stamps and then matched the footprints to the matching dino after they dried.
Matching games are a classic Montessori activity - some of the benefits include:
We made big dinosaur footprints from colored felt and played a tag game of meat eaters vs. plant eaters!
Learning to Draw Igaunodons!
To hone our fine motor skills and practice patterns we made bracelets with different colored beads and dinosaur shaped pasta.
Fun Creative Rainbow Glitter Dinosaurs!
To cool off our eager paleontologists we made these frozen honey coconut treats! Check out our previous blog for the recipe.
To extend your child's dinosaur learning experience check out the Dino Pit at the Austin Nature Center, The Hartman Prehistoric Garden at the Zilker Botanical Gardens, and The Hall of Geology and Paleontology at the Texas Memorial Museum!
See you next time!
The intention of this blog is to include the community in our learning process and to inspire families to engage in fun and healthy activities together!