Mammals Unit 2 w/ Free Printables

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I am so excited about sharing this unit study.  The creation process took much longer than anticipated, but that's what happens when one of your children is obsessed with animals and has to make sure every activity is absolutely perfect.  I did try to introduce the activities last week, but there were some mistakes and Dinomite was sure to let me know about each and every one.  In my defense, I had simplified complicated terms and ideas to create activities that would be appropriate for all three kiddos.  Fast forward one week later and every activity and printable has been perfected.  Simplifying things doesn't necessarily make things less complicated.  At least not when Dinomite is involved.  Dinomite is very pleased now.  Thank goodness!  I promise the unit has been worth the wait.  You'll notice A LOT of animal figures used in this unit.  We have quite a large collection after many years of play and learning.  Enjoy!

Language:
Pink Series:  Short "u" with the Moveable Alphabet
This week we have completed our study of short vowel CVC words.  There will still be much review and activities that combine the skills that the kiddos have learned, but our language activities will now be varied a bit which I'm excited about.  Here is our last single vowel set of CVC words using the Montessori Cursive Moveable Alphabet.

Pink Series:  My Book of Short "u" Sound Words
We have loved working with Phonetic Reading Blocks.  They have provided such a great hands on component and control to learning CVC words.  Bulldozer uses them every time he selects this activity from the shelves.  In this activity the kiddos use the phonetic blocks to create the words that match pictures in the mini book provided.  Then they write the corresponding words below pictures.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Pink Series Printable Pack 5.  For your free copy click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Pink Series:  Cursive Short "u" Words & Picture Match Up
I am thrilled to say it appears that all of my kiddos are starting to read and write in cursive outside of learning activities.  This has been so neat to see.  All of the kiddos love this match up activity, as they find it's a fun challenge.  I have hand written the cursive words on the front of each card using a pink marker.  The printed version of the word is written on the back of each card as a control.  This activity has not only been a fabulous way to learn cursive but a way to learn new vocabulary.  A special thanks to my husband for coming up with the words for all of these pink series activities. 

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Pink Series Printable Pack 5.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Pink Series: Short "u" Picture and Phrase Match Up with Grammar Symbols
A fabulous way to practice CVC words is through picture and phrase match ups.  Since the kiddos do so well with this, we added grammar symbols to the activity to enhance it.  Controls are provided for both the phrase and picture match ups as well as the order of grammar symbols for each phrase.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Pink Series Printable Pack 5.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Math:
Mammals Word Problems
Dinomite has shown quite an interest in word problems.  He doesn't enjoy math in general, but when there are words, he's more apt to try.  These word problems go along with our mammals theme.  All of them are subtraction as that's what we're working on this week.  Glass beads are provided as counters and as markers for answers.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Mammals Unit 2  Math Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Montessori Static Subtraction Using Stamp Game
The kiddos have taken to the stamp game far quicker and easier than I thought they would.  As a result,  I couldn't resist using it for static subtraction.  Sure enough, everyone is having fun with this and understanding it well.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Mammals Unit 2 Math Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Montessori Subtraction with Borrowing
I was a little nervous about teaching the kiddos subtraction of larger numbers with borrowing, but they have all pleasantly surprised me.  The highlight of my week was when Bulldozer chose this activity from the shelves and successfully completed it with assistance.  The golden bead bar material used in this activity is from my Brilliant Minds Montessori Math Kit.  I can't recommend the kit enough!
Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Mammals Math Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Science & Culture:
Mammal Predator & Prey Match Up
While we were learning about mammals, I thought it would be great to review some other vocabulary terms such as predator and prey.  Dinomite was all about helping choose animals for this activity.  Each card is labeled as predator or prey.  Each pair has matching numbers. There are twelve sets in all.
Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Mammals Science & Culture Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Mammals & Continents Match Up
I am so excited about this activity and how well it turned out.  We just received our Montessori World Puzzle Map with Labeled and Unlabeled Control Maps.  The pieces were the perfect size to use for this activity.  Once puzzle pieces are laid out, the kiddos sort our mammal cards, placing them under the correct continent.  Each card has a continent name printed on it below the mammal names.  Continents are printed in colors that correspond to puzzle pieces.  There are six mammal cards for each continent.
To enhance the activity, we included animal figures for each mammal, except for those living in Antarctica.  (We do not have a large variety of seal figures to do that.)  All of the animals came from Safari Ltd. Toobs.  Animal figures from the following toobs were used for this activity:


Source: I created this printable as part of my Mammals Unit Geography, Culture & Science Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

Mammal Adaptations
This activity was the source of much controversy in our home, resulting in a lot of research and finally an activity that satisfies all.  There are two ways that mammals can adapt to their environment.  The first is structural adaptation where they physically change in appearance.  The second is behavioral adaptation where animals behaviors change to accommodate changes in the environment. Two examples of this include  migration and hibernation.  Once the two types of adaptations have been established and presented using cards in this activity, the kiddos separate cards of mammals that migrate, hibernate, and adapt structurally, whether through change in color, thick fur coat etc.    I have written the letters M, H, and SA as a control when sorting, however you will notice all hibernation cards have animals awake in warm weather.  Migration cards show animals on the move.  Structural adaptation cards show animals in winter scenes.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Mammals Unit Geography, Culture, & Science Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Mammals: Who Am I?  Cards
The "Who Am I?" cards are a favorite activity on our shelves right now. The kiddos enjoy working together to find matches of clues and animals.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Mammals Unit Geography, Culture, & Science Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Parts of a Horse Puzzle & Cards
A mammals unit wouldn't be complete without a Montessori Parts of a Horse Puzzle.  The kiddos love these puzzles.  There are so many variations to activities that can be done with them. In this activity the kiddos use the cards to review the parts of a horse.

Source.  The free printable for this activity can be found at The Helpful Garden.

All Mammals Feed Their Babies Milk
The three older kiddos in the house have been asking a lot about mammals feeding their babies milk, once they learned that fact during our last unit.  They were even more perplexed by the idea that women breastfeed, which I couldn't help but laugh at.  With our two youngest children being adopted and two others unable to be breastfed, I guess I should have expected this, but I didn't.  This is my attempt to help them start to feel comfortable with the idea.  Once again we have a very large collection of animal figures that we're always adding to.  If you're missing some of the figures used in this activity, I highly recommend these ones:

Mother Figures

Baby Figures
Elephant, rhino camel, and giraffe can be found in the Safari Ltd Wild TOOB.
Cow, pig, and sheep can be found in the Safari Ltd Farm Babies TOOB.
Beluga whale and polar bear can be found in the Safari Ltd Arctic TOOB.
The cat can be found in the Safari Ltd Domestic Cats TOOB.
Safari Ltd Winner's Circle Horses: Morgan Foal

For the human mother and baby we used dolls that the girls had on hand.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Mammals Unit Geography, Culture, & Science Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Practical Life & Sensorial:
Mammal Button Snake
This button snake was originally made for a busy bag on our trip to Walt Disney World last fall, but it also works perfect for this unit to help the kiddos practice their buttoning skills.  I LOVE how it turned out. 

Mammal Lacing Cards
I find it so funny sometimes how I can present activities over and over again with no luck, but then if I stop trying, wait a few months, and then reintroduce again, the kiddos are all over it.  Such has been the case with these Melissa & Doug Alphabet Lacing Cards.  I had not anticipated them being so popular this week, but they seem to just love showing off their skills with confidence. 

Pouring Milk
Reinforcing that mammals feed their babies milk, I decided that a pouring milk activity would be appropriate.  This is a huge step up from our usual water activities.  So far the kiddos have done well with it.  Rubber bands have been placed on the cups to show just how much the kiddos are to fill each cup.

Montessori Color Tablets
As we've studied several mammals this week we've noticed colors a lot more than usual.  To reinforce colors, I thought it a perfect opportunity to bring out our Montessori Color Tablets.

We have had so much fun with this unit, once it was perfected to meet everyone's learning needs.  For those who are interested in the free printables, click on the links below.




  If you're looking for more Mammal themed activities be sure to check out our first Mammals Unit!

Learning the Montessori Way: Writing

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Dinomite learned how to write while attending a private preschool for special needs children.  Bulldozer and Princess learned how to write at home from me, as part of our homeschooling journey.  Princess did pretty well as I taught her the way I had been taught, but  Bulldozer really struggled.  Nothing I tried worked for him, until I decided to teach him using the Montessori Method approach.

Like all Montessori processes, learning to write does not begin with the language curriculum.  It starts with practical life activities that prepare little hands, strengthening muscles and the pincer grasp.  Take the time to allow your children to develop these much needed skills.  To start the writing process before they are developed will only cause frustration and setbacks.  Bulldozer has always struggled with fine motor tasks.  Practical Life activities  made such a difference for him.  He loved the work.  The improvement in his hand coordination and muscle strength could not go unnoticed.  Once a child becomes successful with pre-writing focused practical life activities and has begun the process of learning letter sounds, it is appropriate to introduce writing.
There are only two original Montessori writing materials in the early language curriculum.  The first is called the metal insets.  This work is used to introduce the process of writing.  Visit the Montessori Primary Guide for step by step instructions, a video, and explanation of the process.  Since the metal insets are quite expensive and I do not have the space to store them, I purchased these Montessori Shapes made of plastic.  They work beautifully.  One might not think this work is important, but I assure you it's necessary.  There are so many skills learned as children trace shapes using the metal insets.  It's challenging.  My children love when I put this work on our shelves.

The Montessori Lower Case Cursive Sandpaper Letters is the other original Montessori writing material.

For those who prefer to use the Montessori Lower Case Sandpaper Letters in print, they are available as well.  The sandpaper letters are used to teach children the shape of each letter.  For specific instructions visit Living Montessori Now.

If you're teaching children how to write numbers, the Montessori Sandpaper Numbers are used.  No matter what sandpaper numbers or letters you're teaching, the process of going through this work is crucial to helping your child learn how to write.  I love that the letters are actually made of sandpaper.  The cards provide such a sensory experience for the child.  The control of error is the texture.  Right now Sunshine is working very hard to keep her fingers on the sandpaper.


Once a child is successful with the sandpaper letters the Montessori Sand Tray is introduced.  This is not an original Montessori material but is used in most Montessori schools.  Lowercase letters are taught first, a couple at a time.  Once again letters do not need to be introduced in any specific order, just remember that they should not look or sound alike.  Bulldozer could not have learned how to write, if it wasn't for the sand tray in the classroom.  Not only did he love the work, but it helped improve his fine motor skills.  We had so much fun changing our trays to different colored sand, scented salts, etc.  There is so much one can do to vary this activity if you find your child is becoming bored with it.
When the child can successfully write letters in the sand tray, a chalkboard is introduced for practice in most Montessori schools.  There is no specific chalkboard that you HAVE to have.  I recommend the Melissa & Doug Magnetic Chalk Dry Erase Board.  We love the Melissa & Doug Eraser and Chalk Bundle.  The chalk is dustless which is really nice.  For those who don't like using a chalkboard (like me), consider using the dry erase board on the back.  This is what we have done in our home.  I love Crayola Large Dry Erase Crayons for writing purposes.  The kiddos practice letters and words in cursive and print on a daily basis.
When your child is successful writing on the chalkboard or dry erase board with no lines, a CHALK BOARD with lines is most often introduced.
For those that would prefer dry erase boards, we use the Board Dudes Double Sided Dry Erase Lapboard.  I find that the board with lines helps the kiddos learn to control the size of each letter.  It also helps them perfect the shape of each letter.

Once writing tasks come easy using a lined chalkboard, plain white paper and Pencils are available for writing tasks in some Montessori schools.  I'm not one who likes a lot of loose paper laying around, so I recommend using the Mead Académie Spiral Sketchbook.  If a teacher feels no need to work with unlined paper, they may skip this step.  I know we did.

Finally writing using lined paper and pencil is introduced.  Like I've mentioned, I don't like loose papers around, so I choose to use the Mead Primary Composition Book for my children.  They call these books their journals and LOVE to go through them reading what they've written etc.  When Bulldozer was having a rough time with writing and becoming very frustrated, I was able to pull out his very first journal and show him how much he'd improved.  From that day forward he wrote with such confidence.

The process of writing takes time and can not be rushed.  Bulldozer has taken years to perfect the skill.  Remember to introduce only a couple of letters and/or numbers at a time otherwise the child will be overwhelmed, and you'll become frustrated with the learning process.  Learning to write occurs at the same time children are learning their numbers and letter sounds, once a teacher confirms the child is ready and has the proper skills to move forward.  If you'd like to refresh your memory on how children learn counting and numbers, be sure to visit my post:

If you need help remembering how letters and sounds are taught in Montessori schools, visit this post:

If you're looking for fine motor or practical life activities that improve writing skills, be sure to visit my Learn & Play Link Up Features this week.  They all offer so many fabulous ideas and variations to activities.






Welcome to the Learn & Play Link Up!!!
Learn & Play Link Up Every Thursday


Now it’s time for this week’s link party! This new link up is for all blog posts that include learn and play activities and hands-on education for kids. We are excited to read your blog posts and to see what you have to share! Please link up below and grab our button to display on your blog.
If you are a blogger, share your family friendly posts here. We are looking for things which include:
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Your post will be shown on each host’s blog where we will individually pick features every other week. That means there is more of a chance that you will be featured!
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learn and play party hostesses

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