Learning with LEGO (Learn & Play Link Up)

An unexpected trip to LEGOLAND is in the near future due to the passing of a loved one.  The kiddos remembered that I had told them the next time we headed to FL, we'd go there.  Of course I never anticipated it being this soon.  As I prepare for a 40+ hour ride in our van round trip with the four kiddos, I thought I'd better start looking for busy bag inspiration.  Little did I anticipate finding so many fabulous learning activities using LEGO products.  You definitely don't want to miss this checking out these features!
This post may contain affiliate links.

17 Lego Preschool Trays!  from SmartE PartE

Free LEGO Printables & 70+ LEGO Learning Activities from Living Montesori Now

Beginning Sounds LEGO Game Jar from Growing Book By Book

LEGO Computer Coding STEM for Kids from Little Bins for Little Hands

Hands-on Science:  Create a Water Cycle Project using LEGOS from Edventures with Kids

LEGO Car Art from STEAM Powered Family

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:
  • Montessori Education
  • Homeschool
  • Sensory Play
  • Tot and Preschool Trays
  • Fine and Gross Motor Activities
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Healthy Recipes for Kids
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Natural Living
  • Free Educational Printables
  • Family-Oriented Activities
  • Healthy Living
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!
Everyone, please meet our link party hosts:
learn and play party hostesses

Guidelines for Linking:
  • Please link up 1-3 posts
  • Follow each of the hosts on social media
  • When you link up, please add our button and place it at the bottom of your shared posts or link back with text link.
  • By entering a link, you’re giving us permission to feature an image on our blogs. Proper credit & links will ALWAYS be given.
  • Please visit a couple of shared posts and leave a comment for them
  • Remember that you must link back in order to be featured
Christian Montessori Network

Bird Unit 3 w/ Free Printables

This post contains affiliate links.


This unit is bittersweet for me.  It marks our third time studying birds, which means it's our last.  Sigh.  Sunshine will study birds as she makes her way through the Montessori preschool curriculum, but the older kiddos will be moving on to bigger and better things.  The truth of the matter is we've officially reached a point where unit studies are no longer effective for Dinomite, Bulldozer & Princess.  This is good in a way. It means that everyone is officially ready for the Montessori early elementary curriculum.  We've been introducing parts of it up to this point, but it's now time to jump in head first in every way.  Rest assured, we have a few more themed unit studies scheduled for the rest of the 2015-16 school year, so those will be made available here. Plus, Sunshine is just starting her Montessori-inspired thematic unit journey, so there are many new unit studies on the way.  I will continue to share all that we do with Dinomite, Bulldozer, and Princess, including early elementary activities and printables, however they will be shared in posts by subject area once we start the new school year.  
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let me share our final bird unit with you!  The unit started out with a "going out" experience at Sapsucker Woods Bird Refuge.  Though we were unable to see many birds, Dinomite and Bulldozer enjoyed and outdoor adventure in nature.  The girls on the other hand...  Let's just say they're not the nature type.
Back on the shelves at home we've had a lot of fun.

Language:
We've officially moved on to the Montessori Blue Series with all three kiddos.  Dinomite and Princess are well beyond this work, hence why I add grammar and cursive writing to make it a bit more difficult.  Bulldozer on the other hand is a little bit further behind.  He's the last of the older three kiddos to learn how to read and just over the last month or so is starting to apply those skills in other settings by choice, which is HUGE.

I need to thank my husband for these beautiful bird themed Montessori Blue Series materials.  He really outdid himself.  (He really likes words and so creating these activities is considered fun to him.)   To come up with this many bird themed blue series words is quite incredible in my mind.

The printable for the first activity includes pictures and blank word strips, providing opportunity to write words in cursive and/or print.  Our cards have cursive on one side and print on the other.  Words written on the card include:  grip, chick, bill, hunt, flock, swim, rest, and bath.

The second activity is a picture phrase match up.  I added the Montessori Basic Wooden Grammar Symbols into the mix to provide an extra challenge, but they are unnecessary, if you're just looking to introduce the Montessori Blue Series.

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

Math:
Admittedly, our math activities have nothing to do with our theme.  Instead we're introducing Montessori multiplication materials.  For more information about learning multiplication the Montessori way, click HERE.

The first activity uses the Montessori Wooden Thousand CubesMontessori 10 Wooden Hundred SquaresMontessori Golden Bead Ten Bars Set of 45, and Montessori Golden Bead Units to teach multiplication of larger numbers.  I am so excited to say that the kiddos found this activity easy and enjoyable!

The second math activity uses the Montessori Multiplication Bead Board.  For instructions on how to use the multiplication board you want to visit The Pinay Homeschooler.

Source:  The free printable used for this activity can be found HERE.

The kiddos were introduced to the multiplication working charts as their third math activity.

Source:  The free printables used for this activity can be found HERE.

Geography, Culture & Zoology:
Birds Around the World
The kiddos love learning about animals around the world.  For this unit, they're learning about birds.  We used pieces from our Montessori Puzzle Map of World to help kiddos sort.  The names of the continents written on the cards is colored in to match the colors of the puzzle pieces.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Bird Unit 3 Culture, Science & Art Printable Pack 1.

Bird Nest Match Up
When we think of bird nests, we often think of one kind of nest.  In reality there are several different kinds.  In this activity we introduce them.  All of the kiddos have really enjoyed this, as have I.  I must confess this is my favorite activity on the shelves this week.  The kiddos have loved it too.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Bird Unit 3 Culture, Science & Art Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Life Cycle of a Chicken
We've done animal life cycles before, but this was one special in that we had the Safari Ltd Safariology the Life Cycle of a Chicken figures as well as fabulous information cards.

Source: The free printable for this activity can be found at Learn Create Love.

Parts of a Bird
Bulldozer is absolutely in love with our animal puzzles. I only wished I had purchased them sooner, but then again, he wasn't interested in them until now.  Thankfully there are many variations to puzzle activities to keep Dinomite and Princess entertained as well.  For this activity, we used the Montessori Wooden Bird Puzzle.

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

Bird "Who Am I" Cards
"Who Am I?" cards have become all the rage in our classroom lately.  This excites me because it means that everyone, including  Bulldozer, is reading the cards.  Of course it helps that I also have the Safari Ltd Backyard Birds TOOB to use with the cards.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Bird Unit 3 Culture, Science & Art Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

Bird Predator & Prey Match Up
The kiddos are absolutely fascinated with predators and prey right now. They're just something "cool" about knowing what animals eat I guess. Personally, it grosses me out, and of course the kiddos know this.  They've thoroughly enjoyed choosing this activity off the shelves to do right in front of me on a daily basis.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Bird Unit 3 Culture, Science & Art Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Art:
My kiddos have always enjoyed art activities that involve learning about artworks and their artists.  For this unit Jason created a set of art cards that specifically focus on birds in art.  The kiddos have thoroughly enjoyed this.

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

The other cutting activity displayed in this collage is also on our shelves right now.  Princess loves practicing her skills every day.  The boys really struggle with cutting.  I've been impressed that they've also been selecting the activity on a daily basis and by so doing, improving their skills.

Source:  The free printables for this activity can be found at Ang at Home.

Music:
The kiddos enjoyed being introduced to the French composer Olivier Messiaen through his masterpiece La Merle Noir.  A picture of the composer was paired with an iPad and headphones, so they could listen to the work and identify all of the bird song qualities.

Practical Life:
Practical life activities are pretty simple for this unit.  The kiddos are practicing their scooping, spooning, and pouring skills using bird seed.  They're also enjoying some of our Melissa & Doug Alphabet Lacing Cards.  During our last unit the kiddos enjoyed the lacing cards so much, I thought I'd bring some more out.

Sensorial:
Sensorial activities this week include the use of our Montessori Shapes and Montessori Blue Geometric Solids.  I tried to keep with bird related shapes which brings great opportunity to discuss the ovoid.

Source:  The free geometric shapes printable used for one activity can be found at The Helpful Garden.  I created the geometric solids sorting cards.  The link to the free printable can be found HERE.

For those interested in my newest free printables, click on the links below!  



If you're looking for other bird resources, activities, and printables be sure to check out these posts!




Montessori-inspired Bird Gifts & Resources for Children 

Kids in the Kitchen Resources (Learn & Play Link Up)

I am so excited to tell you about all that we're doing in the kitchen these days. It was my hope to have everything prepared for this post, but unfortunately I'm a little bit behind.  No worries, several posts are coming in the future.  For now I thought I'd leave you with a round up of my "Kids in the Kitchen" posts before introducing you to some FABULOUS features from this week's link up.  I hope you enjoy!  







Are you wondering how to help your kiddos in the kitchen?  This week's features provide fabulous ideas and tips for success!







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:
  • Montessori Education
  • Homeschool
  • Sensory Play
  • Tot and Preschool Trays
  • Fine and Gross Motor Activities
  • Kids in the Kitchen
  • Healthy Recipes for Kids
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Natural Living
  • Free Educational Printables
  • Family-Oriented Activities
  • Healthy Living
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!
Everyone, please meet our link party hosts:
learn and play party hostesses

Guidelines for Linking:
  • Please link up 1-3 posts
  • Follow each of the hosts on social media
  • When you link up, please add our button and place it at the bottom of your shared posts or link back with text link.
  • By entering a link, you’re giving us permission to feature an image on our blogs. Proper credit & links will ALWAYS be given.
  • Please visit a couple of shared posts and leave a comment for them
  • Remember that you must link back in order to be featured
Christian Montessori Network

Children's Books About Birds

This post contains affiliate links.

Sometimes, despite the presence of ingenious and gorgeously presented materials and thematic elements, a reading shelf full of good books will make or break an entire learning unit.  You can see our reading corner HERE. Frequently, the bookshelf is the highlight of the week, made even sweeter when each student finds a new favorite, different from the others.  Our learners range from ages six to nine, each with very distinct preferences and interests. Keeping those interests in mind, when we set out to create a book list to accompany the materials on the shelves, we have not limited ourselves to non-fiction books due to the ages of the children.  Bulldozer and Princess in particular, seem to really enjoy fiction more at this point, and it seems to enhance their comprehension of the factual material.  The following list of book recommendations is divided into two sections: Non-fiction and fiction, with plenty of good titles in each category.  We hope you find some new favorites from this list and look forward to seeing your feedback in the comments section. 


National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America: The Best Birding Book for Kids from National Geographic's Bird Experts is a great place to start any list of nature guides for children. This volume on North American birds is no exception.  It is amazing how much material the folks at National Geographic manage to fit into these slim titles, yet there is really something new here for everyone from the absolute beginner to mini-birding experts.  Rather than just list the birds (over 100 species are included) in alphabetical order, they are organized according to their natural habitats, from mid-city pigeons, to desert roadrunners and everything in between.


Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Birds is a title that looks, on the cover, like a fictional story. However, a closer look reveals that Crinkleroot is really the alter ego of famed naturalist Jim Arnosky. He is the author and illustrator of this series for young children, as well as many other nature books for older audiences (we will see one of those later on this list.) Arnosky stands out because his enthusiasm for nature stands out on every page. Whether he's describing a humble sparrow or the majestic crane, Arnosky describes the details that kids can look for even in their own backyard, and inspires readers to get out and experience nature up close.  Charmingly illustrated and full of clever tips for improving any wildlife trek, the Crinkleroot books are a wonderful addition to a young naturalist's collection.


Birds, Nests & Eggs (Take Along Guides) is another great title from a series of books aimed at the younger child with an interest in nature.  The Take-Along Guides really are designed as an introduction to the kinds of field guides that bird enthusiasts and other naturalists carry around on bird watches.  The illustrations by Linda Garrow are very detailed and photo-like, making it easy for young readers to spot the real-life counterparts on nature hikes and birding excursions.  A good visual reference for science projects and presentations, which are such a key part of the Montessori upper elementary curriculum.  If you prefer a little bit of a narrative or touch of humor in your field guides, the Crinkleroot series might be your preference, but in terms of choosing a first field guide for your little nature lover, this series is as good as the Arnosky books.


United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds Their Stories, Their Glories is a completely different take on the non-fiction bird book.  If you can imagine what it would look like if all 50 state birds held a contest to see which is the "best" of all the state birds, you'd have a small idea of what this book is really like.  Talbott draws in a very active, kinetic style, and he plays with formatting and page layouts unlike any other children's writer working today.  There are subtle jokes that go on for several pages, clever visual gags, and lots of actual facts about these birds and the states they represent.  This is a visual feast and a fun read that you can really immerse yourself in, if you are up for a wild ride.


The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon is a great selection for the student of history and science.  The teaching of history has shifted away from text books towards first-hand accounts and primary documents in the academic world, and this handsome volume for youngsters is a great introduction to that kind of history book. Author Jacqueline Davies focuses on a few crucial years that shaped John James Audubon, and set him on the path to becoming one of the most beloved and influential American naturalists and artists of all time.  Davies' compelling narrative work is matched perfectly by the outstanding art work by Melissa Sweet.  The admiration they both have for Audubon are clear in the careful, almost hand-made look of the text and illustrations here, all modeled after Audubon's original sketches and notes that he wrote on homemade paper.  Audubon's enormous contribution to the study of nature and especially birds is given its due in this excellent volume, designed for fluent young readers.


Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying Predators is our second selection for fluent readers and the second selection from Jim Arnosky. As you can see from the cover above, Arnosky's talent is quite exceptional, especially in contrast to the Crinkleroot book we saw previously.  Bulldozer, our 7 year-old, is the most visual learner we have, and this is by far his favorite book on the shelf for our bird unit.  The amazing artwork is accentuated by Arnosky's detailed descriptions of these incredible creatures and features life-sized renderings of the birds, some so big they require fold-out pages.  Birds of prey are among the most spectacular animals to look at and learn about, and they are given the royal treatment here by one of our most passionate nature authors.


Raptor! A Kid's Guide to Birds of Prey carries the seal of approval of our resident nature lover, Dinomite.  This handsome volume is in the same vein as the National Geographic bird guide we discussed already.  Full of stunning, full-color photographs, informative graphics and species-specific details, young nature lovers who like their books heavy on facts and action shots will be happy with this one.  Dinomite actually owns this one, and it is one of his go-to reads that he reaches for when he needs to unwind or calm down.  That's pretty high praise, and this book deserves it.


Atlas of Rare Birds is our last selection in the non-fiction category, and certainly should be considered an "advanced studies" selection; it's much too sophisticated for most children in the 6-10 age range. However, if you have a resident bird lover at home, who has already graduated from the juvenile non-fiction section at the library, this would be a perfect choice.  The text is quite sophisticated, but it is accompanied by dozens of beautiful photographs of each rare bird, as well as simple to read geographical and habitat data, that are appropriate for bird lovers of all ages.  The variety of species and incredible coloration among birds makes unit studies on the subject very rewarding and deeply immersive for most children.  This book is a window to a whole wide world that young children can barely comprehend, but for some, it can really capture their imagination and instill a lifelong enjoyment of these magnificent creatures.


The Ugly Duckling (Caldecott Honor Book) is a great example of how some topics are really enhanced by the addition of great fictional stories to the curriculum.  Great stories featuring birds as main characters are abundant, and few are as famous or as enduring as the Hans Christian Andersen tale of The Ugly Duckling.  This version, adapted to English and translated by Jerry Pinkney, is everything you could want from a great children's book: a likable main character, a timeless tale of self-perception and self-esteem, told via simple text and beautiful, lush illustrations.  This is a great choice when you want to curl up with your child on the couch and read a story.


Make Way for Ducklings is a book you might remember from your childhood. Robert McCloskey, who also wrote and illustrated the gorgeous Bluberries for Sal is one of the best known children's writers of the mid-20th century.  A simple tale of a young pair of ducks who (eventually) settle into their new home in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood, this story draws you in with it's earnest, good-natured characters and McCloskey's dreamlike yet finely detailed art.  Plus, the ducks behave like real ducks.  Mr and Mrs. Mallard do "talk" to each other, of course, but they quack when interacting with humans.  The interaction between birds and humans is the heart of the story, and McCloskey's message of appreciating the natural world even in urban settings is appreciated even more today than when it was written 70 years ago. This is a classic for a reason.


On the wing is a simple yet elegant book from poet Douglas Florian. We have enjoyed Florian's work as part of other unit studies (his solar system poems are still recited in our house on a weekly basis), so we jumped at the chance when we saw that he had a book of art and poems about birds.  This book is great to have around an art shelf, since it can spark some creative art or writing projects in the minds of the more artistic young learners out there.  This is a simple pleasure.


The Story about Ping is included here because, well, it's one of Jason's favorite books from childhood.  Being a homeschooling parent provides so many opportunities to revisit subjects and favorite stories from one's childhood, and when the kids enjoy the the same stories you loved as a kid, it's such a thrill.  Ping is a duckling who gets in over his head one day when he hides in the weeds, rather than being the last one to return to the boat when his master calls.  Set in 19th century China, this simple tale is illustrated with whimsical pastels of that adorable little duckling and his colorful yet slightly dangerous world.  Princess, our 6 year old, really enjoyed reading this one out loud, and she giggled delightfully when Ping learns his lesson and gets back on the boat.  Fiction can take you places that that you can't even imagine, and our classroom has been greatly improved by including simple stories like this one on our book shelf.

A love of reading is one of the greatest gifts we can pass on to our children. It opens up doors for our children and invites them to explore a huge, wonderful world.  Choosing great books for them is a major responsibility. Plus, it is a lot of fun.

As Dr Montessori put it, “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.”

If you're looking for learning activities and printables to go along with books about birds, here are unit studies we've done in the past!


If you're looking for more fabulous book recommendations, be sure to visit the following posts!




This post is part of the 12 Months of Montessori Learning Series.  For more fabulous book recommendations, be sure to visit other posts in the series.
Engaging Books for Preschoolers | Mama’s Happy Hive
Children’s Books About Birds | Every Star is Different
Favorite Montessori Resources | Grace and Green Pastures

Get Access to Exclusive Special Needs Parenting Printables by Subscribing Below