Chinese New Year & Extreme Weather Unit: Earthquakes & Volcanoes

Chinese New Year is coming soon!  We're getting ready by learning all about China and traditions there.

We're also studying extreme weather right now.  Currently we're focusing on earthquakes and volcanoes.

To keep life organized by weekly unit studies we've combined all of these activities into one post: Chinese New Year & Extreme Weather Unit: Earthquakes and Volcanoes.  

Chinese New Year and Extreme Weather Unit: Earthquakes and Volcanoes
This post may contain affiliate links.

Here's what's on our shelves this week!


Chinese Zodiac Nomenclature Cards
Chinese Zodiac Nomenclature Cards
The kiddos will match up cards correctly, and then place animals on proper cards.

Source:  I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack II at the bottom of the post.

First Vowel Sound Identification
FREE Chinese Zodiac First Vowel Sound Clip Cards
I've noticed that Bulldozer and Princess are having a hard time identifying vowel sounds in words. It doesn't matter if the sounds are long sounds or short sounds.  I'm hoping this activity will help them improve those skills.

Source:  I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack II at the bottom of the post.

Chinese Zodiac Animal Spelling Words
Chinese Zodiac Animal Spelling Activity
We had a lot of fun with the intro to this activity today.  Each kiddo was given a plastic bag with a dragon head and tail to color.  Once complete, we pulled out all the letter cards in the Set 1 envelope.  The kiddos took turns making Dancing Dragons out of the letters of each word.
Dinomite's Dancing Dragon

Princess' Dancing Dragon

Bulldozer's Dancing Dragon
At the end of the week, we'll replace the letter cards with a real body for our dragons.

Source: I created the spelling list for this activity. For your free copy, click HERE.  The free dragon head and tail printable can be found at Craft Jr.


Odd & Even Numbers
Chinese New Year Odd and Even Numbers Free Printable
It's been a while since we reviewed odd and even numbers. To my surprise, everyone remembered! Hurray!  The cards can also be used for counting by 2's etc.

Source:   I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack at the bottom of the post.

Measuring Dragons
Measuring dragons activity and free printable
I wanted to practice measuring one more time before our unit is complete.  I still can't believe how quickly the kids caught on to this and loved it.  Once again this activity is a hit. The kiddos measure the dragons and match them up to their inch number cards.

Source:   I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack at the bottom of the post.

Greater Than/Less Than
Chinese New Year Greater Than/Less Than Clip Cards
Here's another review activity on our shelves this week.  The kiddos weren't as great at remembering how to do this one, but by the end of today they finally remembered.  Bulldozer surprised me, in that he caught on the quickest.

Source:   I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack at the bottom of the post.

Adding with Pandas
Panda Addition Clip Cards
I couldn't resist using Pandas for our addition practice this week!  As I suspected, it's been a big hit!

Source:   I created the cards used for this activity. For your free copy, click on the link for the China Printable Pack at the bottom of the post.


Asia, the Continent
Asia map play dough activity
The kiddos will cover the map of Asia with play dough, refreshing their memory of it's shape. I chose a physical map so they could notice the topography of the Continent and identify specific countries.  The color yellow is used because it's the Montessori color associated with Asia.

Source: The idea for this activity came from To the Lesson!  The free map for this activity can be found at

Flag of China
Coloring the flag of China
Even though the kiddos aren't crazy about flags, I still love to incorporate them when I can.  The kiddos will color the flag of China correctly.

Source: The free map for this activity can be found at Homeschool Creations.

Largest Cities or Towns of China
Largest Cities or Towns in China activity and free printable
It's one thing to learn about the rich history of China, but another to realize what China is like today.  I wanted to make sure the kiddos understood the difference.
The kiddos will put the cities or towns in order from biggest to smallest.  If they so desire, they can find and mark them on the map.  (I had to write two of the cities/towns in that weren't already shown on the map.)

Source:  I created this activity. For your free printable, click HERE.

Historic Places of China Nomenclature Cards
Historic places of China nomenclature cards (Free Printable)
China is such a beautiful country with so much history.  I loved teaching the kiddos about the places on each of these cards.
Source: I created this activity. For your free copy, click HERE.


Animals of Asia
Free Animals of Asia Cards
Here is our newest set of animal cards, made specifically for Dinomite.  I would not be surprised if he becomes some type of animal scientist when he grows up. He knows SO MUCH already.  The kiddos will look at all the different animals on the cards, sorting them as they wish.  A special thanks to my husband for researching all of the animals and making the cards!

Source:  My husband created these cards.  For your free copy, click HERE.

Layers of the Earth
Layers of the Earth Cards
As I was planning our study of earthquakes and volcanoes, I realized we couldn't learn about them without understanding a lot about the layers of the Earth.  This was our intro activity.  I was so surprised the kiddos understood it all so well.

Source: These free cards can be found at The Helpful Garden.

How the Earth's Plates Move
How the Earth's Plates Move Activity for kids
After learning about the layers of the Earth, we focused on the layers of the Mantle, to better understand how earthquakes and volcano eruptions happen.  I found this really cool visual activity that I couldn't resist using.  The kiddos loved it and completely understood the difficult concepts. I was super excited!
How the Earth's plates move using Oreos
The kiddos create the different ways the plates shift using the Oreo cookies, matching the diagrams provided.  They loved taking it one step further, having the plates collide, etc. to create earthquakes.

Source: This activity can be found HERE.

What an Earthquake Looks Like on the Surface
What an Earthquake looks like on the surface
It's one thing to understand what happens below the surface to cause an earthquake. It's another to understand how it affects the surface and what happens.  The kiddos poured rice on the green paper, covering a metal cake pan.  They liked to say that the rice grains were people.  Then, they took the spoon and banged it against the side of the pan, (the mantle movement & collision under the surface).  It was quite entertaining to watch what happened to the rice.  We then tried the same thing with lentils.

To tie the activity into the history of China, I included picture cards of the earthquake that hit in 2008 causing tens of thousands of deaths, destruction and more.

Source: I found this fabulous idea at  

Parts of a Volcano
Parts of a Volcano cards
I loved these cards when I saw them.  I was so thankful I didn't have to make my own.  (That wouldn't have gone well.)  The kiddos will match up pictures with words and hopefully learn all the parts by the end of the week. I told them if they all could do that, we'd make a volcano and have it erupt.

Source:  This free printable can be found at The Helpful Garden.

Visual Arts

How to Draw a Horse
How to draw a horse activity for kids
Since this new year is the year of the horse, I thought it quite fitting to learn how to draw one.

The free cards for this activity can be found at Art Projects for Kids.


We continue to sing everyday, practice the piano, and have added a new song this week.

Physical Education:  We continue with our family fitness program, adding a new video this week. The kiddos LOVE it!

Practical Life/Sensorial

Transfer with Chopsticks
Pom Pom transfer with Chopsticks
The kiddos will transfer pom poms from one bowl to the other using chopsticks.

Chinese Writing
Chinese writing practice for kids
The kiddos will paint Chinese Number signs or days of the week signs. They had a lot of fun with this today, especially Dinomite.

Source: The free printable used in this activity can be found at Luxury, Travel & Lifestyle.
For those who are interested in the printable packs, click on the links below!

China Printable Pack Part II by Renae at Every Star is Different

Thank you so much for your comments. They always make my day!
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Extreme Weather Conditions Unit: Hurricanes & Tornadoes

Bulldozer is absolutely obsessed with extreme weather, especially hurricanes and tornadoes.  It's the visual effect that appeals to him most.  Our Extreme Weather Unit: Hurricans and Tornadoes is designed specifically for him and others who enjoy the intense study.  There are several activity ideas and fabulous free printables for all to enjoy!
This post contains affiliate links.

Here's what's on our shelves!


Digging Through the Rubble Spelling Sensory Bin
Diggning through the rubble spelling sensory bin.

This is one of my most favorite sensory bins of all time.  All three kiddos love it too!

Contents include:
The kiddos dig through the "rubble" looking for letters to create their spelling words.  It's harder than it seems, but all the kiddos have been successful with it so far.
Hurricane and tornado spelling words.
Source:  I created the spelling list printable. For your free copy, click HERE.

Tornado Types
Type of tornadoes 3 part cards.
I'm super excited about these cards.  The kiddos use them as nomenclature cards, learning about the different types of tornadoes. These cards do not include double tornadoes etc.

Source:  I created this printable. For your free copy, click HERE.  Information for this activity came from the book: Inside Tornadoes.


Tornado Addition
Tornado addition activity.
This is our classic addition tray, with the added fun of mini tornadoes made out of white pipe cleaners to count with.  It always amazes me how just one little added twist of fun makes all the difference.

Source: I created this printable as part of my Hurricane & Tornado Math Printable Pack.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Hurricane Subtraction
Hurricane subtrction cards and activity.

Get ready!  Bad weather is on it's way!  The kiddos will practice subtraction using cotton ball clouds and blue glass beads as counters.

Source: I created this printable as part of my Hurricane & Tornado Math Printable Pack.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Purchasing Items for an Emergency Kit
Purchasing items for an emergency kit
Each week we learn about extreme weather conditions, we also review the safety and emergency protocols for each weather event.

This activity is helping the kiddos remember exactly what needs to be in their emergency kits. Obviously there will be other items too, but this is a good start for them.  It's a great way to practice their coin counting.

Source: I created this printable as part of my Hurricane & Tornado Math Printable Pack.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.


Scale of Tornado Intensity
Scale of tornado intensity matching activity and printable.
 This activity has been very popular on the shelves.  The kiddos match up Intensity Scale ratings with pictures and descriptions.

Source: I created this printable. For your free copy, click HERE.  Information for this activity came from the book Inside Tornadoes.

Hurricane Paths
Creating Hurricane Paths
 We don't have official Montessori Knobless Cylinders, but Bulldozer does have a large collection of his own in his room.  They're not perfect, but they definitely work.  In this activity the kiddos create the paths of the hurricanes, as shown on the cards, using the cylinders.  Bulldozer loves to do this more than anyone.
Hurricane paths.
Source: I came up with the idea for this activity.  Hurricane Path Cards were found on the Internet.

Culture & Geography

Hurricane Katrina in Pictures
Hurricane Katrina in pictures.
As we introduced the unit we talked in depth about Hurricane Katrina, sequencing picture cards to tell the story.  The kiddos now look at the pictures, putting them in any order they'd like to tell the story of the hurricane.

Source: I gathered the pictures together for this activity using Wikipedia Commons Files.

Top 10 Tornado States
Top 10 tornado states learning activity.
The kiddos will use markers to mark the top 10 Tornado States on the map.  The map is colored using Montessori colors. I have colored the chart using corresponding Montessori colors so states are a bit easier to find.

Source:  The free printable map for this activity can be found at Free Printable Maps.  I created the Top 10 Tornado State Chart. For your free copy, click HERE.

Information for this activity came from the book: Inside Tornadoes.  This map reflects the total amount of tornadoes ever in each state, and is not to be confused with Top Killer Tornado State Rankings or Top Yearly Tornado State Rankings, also provided in the book.

Visual Arts

Torn Paper Tornadoes
Torn Paper Tornado Art
The kiddos will tear up old magazine pages and glue them on the white paper in the shape of a tornado. I love how every one looks so different!

Source:  I saw this adorable activity at First Graders At Last.

Practical Life & Sensorial

Hurricane Creations
Hurricane creations using whipped cream.
I thought it might be fun for the kiddos to create space views of a hurricane using laminated blue paper for water, green paper for land, and whipped topping to create the clouds of the hurricane.  Once they've created their hurricane using the whipped topping, they can use fingers to help it move, become bigger or smaller.

This proved to be a great fine motor activity!  Shaking and spraying the whipped topping was challenging, but so worth it.

Source: I came up with the idea for this activity.

Replacing Batteries in a Flashlight
Changing batteries in a flashlight.
The kiddos will practice putting batteries in a flashlight correctly. They will turn it on to check their work.

Locking the Doors & Windows
Locking and latching doors puzzle.
Originally I had wanted to have a hammer and nails activity on the shelves. It would be fun to practice boarding up windows before a hurricane comes. However, I couldn't find a piece of wood the size I needed, so I reverted back to this activity instead.  There were definitely no complaints.

The kiddos will practicing locking doors as they are evacuating their homes before a hurricane comes using the Melissa & Doug Latches Board.

United States of America Puzzle
Wooden Puzzle Map of the USA
Our unit focused primarily on extreme weather activity in the United States this week.  The kiddos have loved reviewing all of their states with this puzzle.

Tornado in a Jar
Have you ever made a tornado in a jar?  All you need is a jar, a few drops of dish detergent and water.  It's provided so much entertainment, and again is great motor work!

Source:  This activity came from

I hope you enjoy our tornado and hurricane activities as much as we have!

For those who would like the Hurricane & Tornado Math Printable Pack, click on the link below:

Hurricane & Tornado Math Printable Pack by Renae at Every Star is Different

If you are interested in our other extreme weather units, be sure to visit the posts below.
Avalanches, Blizzards and Ice Storms

Earthquake and volcano activities with free printables.

If you are interested in more weather activiites in general, be sure to visit the page below!
Weather activities and free printables.
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Rainbow Writing Prompts (Free Printable)

It can sometimes be difficult for my kiddos to remember all of the rules of writing from day to day.  For this reason I created our Rainbow Writing Prompts.  After daily journal tasks the kiddos use their prompts to check their work.  Depending on their writing ability depends on the prompt they use.  I am sharing these prompts as a free printable to you today.
Free beginning writing prompts for kids
This post may contain affiliate links.

Daily Journal Tasks

Every day I write a question in each of the kiddos' journals for them to answer.  Depending on their grade level depends on how many sentences they are required to answer with.  First grade questions receive one sentence answers.  Second grade questions receive two sentence answers and so on.  Before first grade the kiddos practice rewriting words and then sentences I have already written.

I love their journals. They've been a fabulous way to find out how much the kiddos are retaining in other subject areas.  Usually, questions are based on our current unit of study or something else they're learning.

Other times I like using the journal questions to help the kiddos work through big emotions about sensitive topics that may be bothering them.  They're more apt to write about something than express it verbally.

I try my best to rotate question words so that the kiddos practice responding to each of the question words.

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • Why
  • When
  • How

Questions are open ended questions and at times have a "why" tacked onto them to encourage writing and expression for those who write more than one sentence answers.

Rainbow Writing Prompts

Writing isn't always easy though.  In an effort to make journal writing more successful, I created a system called Rainbow Writing.  The kiddos need cues and visuals to help them remember the writing process each day.  They are all at different levels, so I created three different print outs.

After the kiddos write in their journals they use their Rainbow Writing Prompts to double check their work.  When they notice they've missed something they can go back and correct it.

Other than the kiddos' corrections, writing stays in it's original form to show a natural progression of the kiddos' knowledge, and to help them build confidence in their own abilities.  No corrections are made by the teacher.  I have loved watching the kiddos' writing improve over time.  It's such a magical process.

They also love seeing the progression as I keep their journals from year to year.  They feel such satisfaction in observing their own progress.

Get Your Free Copy Today!

For those of you who would like copies of the Rainbow Writing Prompts, click on the links below!

We look forward to creating more levels of Rainbow Writing Prompts as the kiddos progress with their writing!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.
How to Write a Newspaper Article Learning the Montessori Way: Writing 20+ Spelling Activities for Those Who Despise Spelling

Rainbow Writing Prompts (Free Printable)

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