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The World Around Me: All About Me

Even though we home school our kiddos year round, the official start of the year is the first full week in August.  You'll notice the activities on our shelves are a bit more serious in nature and some very traditional.  (Hooray!)  

The theme for the month of August is:  The World Around Me.  We'll spending this week focusing on "All About Me."  

The second week we'll focus on our family.  Our third week will be dedicated to our country.  Finally, the fourth week will be dedicated to our religion.  At the same time we'll be doing a lot of introductory activities in Geography, Culture, Science, Sensorial, etc., along with a lot of comparing and contrasting to other types of individuals, families, countries, and religions.
The World Around Me: All About Me
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I didn't have a chance to post this before our first learning time of the week, and I've gotta say, the kids LOVED the new activities on the shelves. It's very rare that my kiddos choose activities from the "work" shelves before they choose a new activity from the "fun" shelves, but today "work" activities were considered just as fun.  Due to another obligation today we had to cut learning time a little short.  The kiddos were very upset and didn't want to end our time together.  I write about this because, it's a very rare ocurance.  I want to be sure I remember it. Lol.

On to our trays this week!

My Emotions
All four of our special needs kiddos have an extremely difficult time reading facial expressions and non verbal gestures.  We've worked extremely hard in our home to teach our kiddos how to express their feelings.  They tend to do pretty well at this, however, reading others' feelings is a different story.  I figured an "All About Me" week was a perfect time to incorporate working on facial expressions and emotions.

They seemed super excited to see this activity on the shelves. I worked hard to find cards that not only had facial expressions but other nonverbal cues, the kids may pick up on.  I included a mirror so they can practice making the facial expressions themselves and see what they look like in comparison to the expression they're trying to mimic.
Source:  I created the printable for this activity. The Emotions Nomenclature Cards Printable is a Subscriber Only Freebie. For your free copy, be sure to follow the directions at the bottom of this post.

One of the reasons I didn't have time to post our activities this weekend, was because I spent a significant portion of it making some homemade Montessori Materials.  I had been postponing it for quite some time in hopes that money would magically appear and I could just order some.  No such luck.

It's funny how the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  Bulldozer and Princess have really been struggling with meeting their Math and Language goals.  I know it's only been a month into the school year and a very relaxed one at that, but I found myself becoming extremely nervous about the goals I had set for them.  As one often does, I reverted in my teaching methods, back to the traditional public school way of doing things.  I'd drill them on sight words, numbers, letters, and addition facts.  Nothing seemed to be working.  Then it was as if a light went on in my head, or perhaps some sense was knocked into it.  HELLO!  USE THE MONTESSORI METHOD!

It amazes me how quickly I can forget why we chose to teach our children this way.  The materials and method are already there, so concrete and so perfect.  It's been tested and proven to work.  Other than the cost of materials, the only other thing that holds me back is myself.  Sometimes I doubt it, never having been officially trained in it.  Sometimes I just forget things I've learned, studied and researched in regards to the method.  And then there's the pressure from the district to collect "data" to prove what doesn't work for my kiddos, in order to make sure when testing comes around, they'll accommodate them in the ways they need.  The whole process is torture for all of us.  Looking on the bright side of things, at least I've proven one method that definitely doesn't work for Bulldozer and Princess.

Spelling is something that Dinomite struggles with and always has.  I learned a long time ago, he was not one who was going to learn a spelling list and be tested at the end of every week.  Talk about screaming fits, tantrums, anxiety, etc.  I've been reading and researching about how spelling is approached in the Montessori Method.  I was able to speak with a retired Montessori teacher.  To my surprise her answer was,

"Well, there's really not much emphasis put on it at all.  They learn as they go."  How could that be? Is it really that simple?  I mean those spelling tests are forever engraven in my mind.  That's how I learned to spell right?  It was those tests.... Or perhaps not?

Montessori schools have a wonderful movable alphabet.  The letters are red and blue.  For some, the colors might not mean much, but I REALLY love the color coding system of all the Montessori materials.  Anyways, I've wanted my own movable alphabet for some time, but with my husband not working, it hasn't been possible.  This weekend, I created my first movable alphabet activity, along with a free movable alphabet printable.

Wouldn't you know it, Dinomite took right to it and LOVED the activity.  Mind you this is the kid who screamed and cried and literally FREAKED OUT over spelling.  If I had only known it was going to be so easy.

Body Parts
This week's All About Me movable alphabet activity focuses on body parts.  I made five cards with different body parts, along with a control card for Bulldozer and Princess, in case they become too flustered doing it on their own.  Words include: rib, leg, neck, lung, and hand.  The kiddos will practice spelling the words using the movable alphabet provided.
Here is our new movable alphabet!  I didn't have a container to store all of the letters separately so I decided to use a wall chart instead.  It's hung close to the floor, so the kiddos can easily access the letters (and numbers).
When complete, this is what the work should look like!  I was so amazed at the difference in Dinomite as we used this method compared to spelling tests.
Source: I made the Body Parts Printable for this activity.  I also made the Movable Alphabet and Number Printable.  Both printables are Subscriber's Only Freebies. For your free copies, be sure to follow the directions at the bottom of this post.

I rarely have an activity on the shelves that involves writing, however, this week Bulldozer and Princess have learned all four letters shown below and I wanted to give them just a little more practice.
To keep things simple, I didn't add any other components to the activity.

Source:  I found the free cards at Homeschool Creations.

Bob Book Set 1 Book 2 Build the Words
This activity was left almost untouched last week, so I kept it on our shelves.

Source:  This free printable can be found at Walking by the Way.

Besides creating my own movable alphabet this weekend, I made A LOT of homemade bead materials.  I was fortunate that the only materials I had to purchase from a store were the gold beads and pipe cleaners. Everything else I had on hand.  My bead materials follow traditional color schemes.  I worked hard to make sure each strand could hook up to another, if I felt so inclined in the future.  The only materials I used were pony beads and pipe cleaners.
I was inspired to make bead bars as I felt the need to introduce the tens boards this week.  One of Princess and Bulldozer's goals for the year (and actually for this month) is to be able to count to 100 on their own.  They do fabulous through 30 and are fine as they count from 1 to 9 with each new tens number, however they mix up the order of the tens.  The inspiration for this activity was just another one of those "Aha!" moments I had.  The Montessori Method is so simple when I just do it!

With finances so tight, I knew purchasing my own tens boards was pretty impossible.  At first I tried making a printable, but then when I tried to use the beads with it, the numbers and spaces were too small.  So, I grabbed a piece of oak tag I had stored in the house and made one using a ruler, pencil, marker and scissors.

Tens Boards & Beads
When I had borrowed teens boards from a Montessori school in the area, Bulldozer really struggled with the beads. He would stim off of them constantly.  This was my only worry with using the beads again.  However, he surprised me and did such a fantastic job today laying out his tens bars, selecting numbers, and then the appropriate beads.  It made all of my work over the weekend totally worth it.

Hundreds Board
To further practice our numbers to 100, I brought our Hundreds Board back out.  This time, before presenting the activity, I watched a tutorial video on how to present and teach the concepts.  As a whole, the task is still a bit daunting at times for the kiddos, but sure enough, Dinomite pulled it off the shelves first thing today.  Instead of grouping all of the numbers together, as I had before, I separated them by tens.  You'll notice each container has a number written on it to represent the tens number set it holds.  I don't have any fancy cases or boxes, so this had to do.  I found the numbers really helped Dinomite as he went along and especially as he was cleaning up!

I did not purchase this board. It was given to me.  It's amazing how many teacher-like people start giving you items they don't use anymore, once they find out you're homeschooling.  It has been a big blessing for us in humble circumstances.

Sequencing Growth
To go along with our theme of the week, and to help Bulldozer with his goal of sequencing this year, I decided to have a little fun and see if the kiddos could sequence their own yearly portraits.  Oh my goodness!  What fun they've had!  It's definitely been a favorite on the shelves.  Bulldozer did struggle the first time around, but he eventually figured the activity out.  Each kiddo has their own bag of yearly photos to sequence.

Source:  The numbers can be found in my free Movable Alphabet and Numbers Printable.  This is a Subscriber's Only Freebie. Be sure to follow the directions at the bottom of this post to obtain your free copy.

A dear friend gave me an entire set of these tranogram activities.  I wasn't sure if the kiddos would like them or could do them, so I picked out the three easiest ones in the set.  To my surprise the kiddos are loving them.  Hooray!  I can't wait to progress to some harder ones.

Me on the Map
I love how the Montessori Method starts by teaching kiddos about the Earth as a whole and then slowly moves towards their country, state, city, street, etc.  This activity is a great way to lay it all out for the kiddos. I was so impressed that they recognized their continent and country with no problems whatsoever.

Each kiddo has a bag with all of the pieces printed and cut out, ready to put together.  They are using my project as their control.  Princess shocked me today by putting the ENTIRE thing together by herself, without asking a single question.

Source: I originally saw the idea for this activity at Counting Coconuts. However, I have also seen it other places since.

Earth's Continents & Oceans
This activity was on our shelves last week, but barely touched.  I decided it worked perfectly with our theme this month, so I left it out for one more week.  I love this printable because it actually includes all five oceans, along with continents. The only down side to the printable is that the maps are so small.  Still Dinomite loves the activity.

Source:  I found this free printable at Our World Wide Classroom.

Artist Nomenclature Cards
Starting next month, we focus on an artist a month during learning time.  I thought it might be nice to do an introductory activity, just so the kiddos can start learning the names and actually put a face to the names they here.  As I explained what an artist was today, Princess was very intrigued with the concept in general.  Each month I'll add different pieces of art to go along with each name.  I tried to find pictures of all of the artists we were going to cover, however, some were copyrighted images, so they are not included in the free printable.
Source:  I created the printable for this activity. The Artists Nomenclature Cards are a Subscriber's Only Freebie. To obtain your free copy, be sure to follow the directions at the bottom of this post.

Color Wheel Experiment
We did this activity a long time ago, but the kiddos were super excited to see it back on the shelves.  I place drops of water along with red, blue, and yellow food coloring in separate little compartments on the round tray.  The kiddos then mix and match colors to their heart's content, experimenting to see what happens when certain colors mix.

Piano & Theory Lesson 1
A piano doesn't fit on a tray obviously, but the book and cards do.  So, as one of Dinomite's goals for the year is for him to take piano lessons, we're starting our journey.  My degree is in music.  That said, I've really struggled to incorporate music activities into our learning time schedule.  I've found that subjects that are most near and dear to me are much harder to prepare and simplify for the kiddos, compared to themes I really don't care about.  

This week the kiddos will match up items on the cards with items on the sheet music pages.  Then, once having done so, they will play the first line of the first page of "This Old Man."  Each day we'll work on finger positioning, as the control is at the top of the page.  Ultimately it will be up to the kiddos if they decide to actually read the music or just learn it by sound.  By the end of the month, they'll have the whole song learned (and most probably memorized).  Each month I'll introduce a new piece.

We'll also be having fun singing lots of songs each day that we already know.

Practical Life:
Sweeping Pasta
The kiddos were super excited to try sweeping up some uncooked pasta noodles by themselves today.  Our dining room and kitchen floors have square tiles, a perfect place for them to practice.  Both Dinomite and Bulldozer loved this activity today.

As we're talking about our bodies this week, I couldn't resist bringing our Operation game out again, of course without batteries.  Just a few short months ago the kiddos really struggled with it.  Today however, both Dinomite and Princess were able to remove all the pieces by themselves using the tweezers provided! I love seeing progress!

Buttoning & Snapping
Snapping is on my list of goals for this month, however I'm starting to become a little annoyed that none of my kiddos seem to understand the concept of buttoning/snapping and zipping their pants/shorts.  It's worse when it doesn't even occur to them to undo the buttons or snaps and unzip their pants/shorts to take them off or put them on.  So... I'm hoping after this week, they'll at least understand the step by step process.  And if they don't touch the activity, it will move to the "work" shelves next week. Lol.

Pouring Water
Not knowing just how much the kiddos would enjoy all of the activities this week, I added this one.  It's one of Bulldozer's most favorite activities.  The kiddos have become so great at pouring, to the point that Dinomite and Princess always ask for me to pour their milk in their cups, just so they can pour it into their cereal.  (The milk container is still to heavy for them to pour by themselves.)  I love it!

Pipe Cleaner & Colander Activity
When I spotted this activity, I was originally thinking of it for Sunshine, however, when I was looking for ideas this week, I came across it again and thought the other three might like it too, especially if I made it a little bit more involved.  Sure enough Dinomite really liked it.  What a creation!
Source:  I saw this idea at Mama to 5 Blessings.

Five Senses
I wasn't sure just how in tuned to the five senses Bulldozer and Princess were, when we started this unit.  This activity was geared to towards them.  One at a time, they select an object from the basket.  Using the cards provided, they go through each of the five senses, deciding whether they can see, hear, taste, touch and/or smell the item.  Both younger kiddos really surprised me with their knowledge of the senses.  Bulldozer would even comment on the fact that you could taste a flower, it just wouldn't taste good. Lol.
Source: I created the printable for this activity. The 5 Senses Printable is a Subscriber's Only Freebie. For your free copy, be sure to follow the directions at the bottom of this post.

One of our Spanish goals for the month is to learn the names of our body parts. I found this cute video to help the kiddos learn, since they really seem to do fabulous learning Spanish through song.  This week we'll focus on the English words and next week I'll introduce Spanish Body Part Nomenclature cards to help the kiddos learn all of the Spanish pronunciations.  It should be fun!

And that's it!  I'm still waiting for some of my books to arrive at our local library, or else I'd share our reading for the week too, but oh well.  Hopefully next week.  :)

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  1. SO many great Montessori ideas! :)

    1. Thank you! I read your posts diligently. I was actually going to send you a message, because for some reason, I'm unable to comment on your posts. It keeps saying there's already someone signed in as that user. You've had some really great ones lately.

  2. I'm so glad you link up at Montessori Monday. I love to see your new unit studies ... they're always fabulous! And I really appreciate all the free printables you create and share! I featured your post with free printables as the Free Printable(s) of the Day at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and on Pinterest.

    1. Thank you so much! It always makes my day when I see a comment from you on one of my posts. Thank you also for helping me know how to share my printables. Lol. They will always be free!

  3. Fabulous post! As a classroom teacher I gave up spelling lists/ test after my third year. When parents would ask me why we didn't have spelling lists in later years I would explain that we used Writer's Workshop in our classroom where they naturally learned spelling of words they actually used. Kudos to you for being brave and ditching the spelling list. We are stating next week and our first week is "all about me" as well. I have planned to do the same activity you chose for making a map of their place in space. I really liked you emotion tray and I downloaded your cards and will add this activity to our shelves this week. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I'm so glad you'll be able to use the emotion cards. Enjoy your first week back!

  4. Oh I also wanted to tell you that Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler made a great art program "World's Greatest Artists". You should check it out.

    1. Thanks for the info! I tried to check it out, but for some reason Confessions of a Homeschooler shows up extremely tiny on my screen and I'm unable to read it. Perhaps I'm missing something?