Blog Archive

Cat and Dog Activities and Printables (Learn & Play Link Up)

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Sunshine has always been obsessed with cats and dogs.  Besides babies, I seriously can't think of something that she likes more.  So when I saw that we had a few cat themed activities in our Learn & Play Link Up last week, I couldn't help running with the idea!  Just check out these activities and printables!

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
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Busy Bags for Hollywood Studios Walt Disney World & More!

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We rarely leave the house without busy bags for Sunshine and others who may need them.  Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World was no exception.  As my husband says, 

"At Disney World you always seem to be in a hurry to wait."

  Whether in line, at a restaurant, waiting for a parade or show, you can always depend on waiting while in the parks.  Here are a few simple busy bag ideas that worked for us.  Please note: some of them work better in some situations than others.  And some were used back at the hotel to pass time when our day at Hollywood Studios didn't go as planned.

Themes for each busy bag were chosen specifically based on what there is to do at Hollywood Studios.

Doc McStuffins' Book of Boo boos
This busy bag was VERY simple.  It included a washable crayon and a plain notebook from the $1 store.  While in Disney we actually ended up using washable markers instead of crayons because of the heat, but it's still the same concept.  Sunshine LOVED this busy bag.  Not only did she use it while in Hollywood Studios, but everywhere else after our day there.

Sofia the First Counting Cards with Clothespins
Sunshine LOVES fine motor tasks, so playing with Clothespins is a favorite.  Whether she decided to actually count the items on the card and clip the correct number, or just used the clothespin to clip the images on the cards, the activity worked just as well and included some of her favorite characters from one of her favorite shows.  

Source:  The free printable for this activity can be found at Over the Big Moon.

Cars Colors Book
When you have a kiddo who loves books, it's not uncommon to want to bring some with you when needed, even in Walt Disney World.  However with limited room in backpacks, and wanting to avoid any unnecessary weight, board books just aren't something I bring. Instead I create my own books using card stock and Scotch Thermal Laminating Pouches.  The book worked perfectly while waiting in line.

Source:  The free printable for this activity can be found at 1+1+1=1.

Star Wars Puzzles

Sunshine has developed a love for Star Wars after being introduced to the characters and film by her older brothers.  So while they went on a ride she wouldn't enjoy, it only made sense to bring a Star Wars activity for her to do while we wait for them.  In a perfect world, I would have created squares with two pieces of velcro, one for each side of the puzzle, so they would stick together for Sunshine, no matter what she did with them.  I'll remember this for next time.

Source:  The free printable for this activity can be found in the Star Wars Tot Pack at 3 Dinosaurs.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Character Match Up
Sunshine is a Disney Junior fan all the way.  We can't forget to include Jake in our activities!  Here Sunshine matched up character cards to Disney Jr. Jake and the Neverland Pirates Figurine Gift Play Set figures.  Other times she just played with the cards or with the figures.  This busy bag provided multiple ways to entertain.

Source:  The free printable for this activity can be found at 1+1+1=1.

Hollywood Studios Snack Breaks
It's always nice to have snacks on hand in the parks.  These are a few that I found special for our day at Hollywood Studios.  All were found at local grocery stores.

Hollywood Studios Visual Schedule
Though not a busy bag, our visual schedule for the day in Hollywood Studios was one of Sunshine's favorite things and kept her calm when things weren't quite going the way she had envisioned.  I can not stress enough how important our visual schedules were while at Disney.  This visual schedule was created using pictures of Hollywood Studios I found online. Attached with a Ring, the cards could be changed when needed.  All of the pictures had labels on them.

If you'd like to read about our experience in Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World, be sure to check out the post below!

For more Disney themed busy bags for your trip to the parks, be sure to visit these posts:

For more busy bag inspiration, check out all of the FREE printables available in the post below!
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Montessori-inspired Fish and Water Unit with FREE Printables

There is something so fascinating and magical about fish.  This makes learning about them so much fun for everyone. 

My kiddos have loved this Montessori-inspired Fish and Water Unit with Free Printables.  They can not get enough of the activities.

At first this was just going to be another fish unit, but it didn't make sense to do that.  Fish live in oceans, rivers, lakes and more.  This was the perfect time to learn more about water forms.

Here's what we've been up to!


"sh" Sounds of the Ocean
We are almost finished with the Montessori Blue Series, so I thought it'd be okay to introduce a phonogram from the Green Series for this activity.  Bulldozer is very interested in letter sounds right now.

In this activity the kiddos will sort through the sea creatures in the bowl.  If their name has the "sh" sound, they will place them on the Montessori Lower Case Double Sandpaper Letters.  Those who do not have the "sh" sound in the their name will be placed to the side.

Each creature has it's name written on it as a control.  All those with the "sh" sound in their name are fish. Those without the "sh" sound are not.

Safari Ltd TOOB figures used in this activity and others in this unit include:


Dividing Goldfish
The kiddos have now learned how to add, subtract, multiply and divide with ease.  I thought our fish unit would be a great time to review some of the operations they've learned.

In this activity the kiddos will divide Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers among the fish bowls provided to answer the math problems on each card. Glass Gems are being used for markers in this activity.  When finished kiddos can eat one goldfish cracker for every problem they've answered correctly.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Fish Unit Math Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie. See directions at the bottom of this post on how to access your free copy.
Multiplying Swedish Fish
It seemed only natural to practice our multiplication skills for this unit as well.  The kiddos will use the Swedish Fish as counters to answer the problems on each card. Clear Gem Glass Confetti is being used as counters for this activity.  Once again, I permitted the kiddos to have one Swedish Fish for every problem they answered correctly.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Fish Unit Math Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie. See directions at the bottom of this post on how to access your free copy.


Parts of a Fish
I am amazed by how much my kiddos love our Montessori Wooden Fish Puzzle.  It is such a fabulous tool in helping the kiddos learn about the parts of a fish.  When using this activity the kiddos match up each body part to the cards provided.

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

Fish "Who Am I" Cards
My kiddos love "Who Am I" cards.  Bulldozer chooses the activity everyday.  I love listening to him read each card to figure out which picture card it matches up with.  He's come so far with his reading.

Source:  This printable for this activity is part of the Montessori-inspired Fish Printable Pack Bundle.  Please note that updates to this printable have been made.  The border is no longer blue.

Fish Dangers
As many know, Dinomite loves learning about predators of all kinds.  For this unit he asked to learn about why and when fish are dangerous.  In this activity the kiddos will match up information cards with picture cards. Each information card tells how the fish catches it's prey, if it's dangerous to humans and why.

Source:  The printable for this activity is part of the Montessori-inspired Fish Printable Pack Bundle. Please note that updates to this printable have been made.  The border is no longer blue.
Creatures of the Ocean Sort
Princess and Bulldozer have become a little confused about which sea creatures are fish and which ones are not.  This activity has helped them a lot.  The kiddos will sort the cards into two columns, "Fish" and "Other."  As a control, each card says fish, echinoderm, mammal, etc. on it.  The figures are provided for the kiddos to match up with picture cards.  They've really enjoyed this.

Source:  The printable for this activity is part of the Montessori-inspired Fish Printable Pack Bundle.


My Book of Continents and Oceans
I never anticipated just how much the kiddos would love this activity. To be completely honest, I was nervous they wouldn't touch it after I presented it.  Boy was I wrong.  All three kiddos are so proud of their books.

The purpose of the activity is to help the kiddos learn the names of the oceans and where they're located in relation to each continent. Each page of the book shows a continent with lines above, below, and on each side of it.  There the kiddos write which oceans and/or continents surround each other.

A compass is provided on each page as a control, to help them remember which direction they're looking in.  To find answers, the kiddos are using our Explorer World Desk Globe.

Source:  Renae created the printable for this activity as part of the Fish Unit 2 Science & Culture Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie. See directions at the bottom of this post on how to access your free copy.

My Book of Land and Water Forms
There are many ways to learn about land and water forms, several of which we've done in the past, however I wanted to take things to the next level this time around.  The kiddos are making their own books of land and water forms, drawing and labeling them on each page.  At first they were hesitant, but now they very much enjoy the activity.

Source:  Renae created the printable for this activity as part of the Fish Unit 2 Science & Culture Printable Pack 1. This is a subscriber's only freebie. See directions at the bottom of this post on how to access your free copy.

Major Rivers of the World
We've learned about various water forms. The kiddos have learned about oceans.  Until now, we hadn't studied rivers.  This activity is an introduction to the subject.  There is so much information packed in these cards.  As a control I colored a dot the same color as the Montessori continents on the back of each of the river cards.  Dinomite was so excited to tell me which rivers he already knew about.

Source:  This printable for this activity can be purchased for a small fee at The Pinay Homeschooler.

Sensorial/Practical Life

Caring for Fish
As part of our unit, we introduced fish into our learning environment.  Fish are the first pets the kiddos have ever had. The experience has definitely been an adventure.  I'll be writing about it more in another post soon.  But for now, know that the boys each have three fish that they've named and are responsible for.  

The day this picture was taken was the glorious day when there was enough algae in the fish tank to buy an algae eater.  Who knew that day would be so exciting for the boys. Lol.

For those interested in the printables for this unit, follow the directions below.

Directions on How to Obtain Subscriber Only Freebies

1. Click on the Subscriber's link at the bottom of this post.
2. Subscribe to our free newsletter.
3. Open the thank you message you receive after subscribing. (Be sure to check your spam folder, as sometimes it ends up there.)
4. Locate the link to our Subscriber Only Freebies page as well as password to access it in the "Thank You" message.
5. Click on link and type in password.
6. Find the printable pack you are looking for listed in alphabetical order, click on it, and viola!

We hope you enjoy your free printable.

Note: If you are already a newsletter subscriber, open your most recent newsletter. At the bottom you will find a link to the Subscriber Only Freebies page, along with the password in case you forgot it.

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If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.

Fish Printable Pack Bundle in Action with Free Bonus Printable 10 Ways to Teach Land and Water Forms Children's Books About Fish Little Fish, Big Emotions Fish Unit 
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Children's Books about Fish

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As we have progressed through the animal kingdom over the past few months in our unit studies, the titles on our bookshelf have become progressively more difficult to choose.  Sure, books about mammals are plentiful, and there are some all-time classics about birds, but now that we have arrived at our fish-themed unit, the choices are less...inspiring.  The main problem is getting around books that are about fishing or starting an aquarium.  Once we excluded those, some pleasant choices emerged. As usual, we are emphasizing either non-fiction titles,with a few fiction or poetry books, to round out the choices.  Let's dive in. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.) 

DK Eyewitness Books: Fish is first on the list, as it represents the kind of kids' science book that we have come to love.  The DK series is a reliable source of quality nonfiction books for kids. The layout of each page is what stands out the most: photographs and illustrations that splash across pages, each captioned with very informative text that helps the reader comprehend what is being presented.  This book is a broad overview of the world of fish, which is another benefit for the student who wants to explore a new topic as thoroughly as possible.  From early fossil specimens, to the wildest and weirdest species, to conservation issues and everything in between. This is a good place to start for solid readers who love fish. 

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes: Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Bahamas, Bermuda should be considered our "advanced studies" book this week.  Dinomite, our 9-year-old wildlife expert, picked this one out, since he values books that are as fact-filled as possible. This one certainly meets that description. Featuring 400 pages of full color photographs of hundreds of specimens, followed by nearly 700 pages of species descriptions, this is one comprehensive little book. It's designed as a field guide (compact design and a flexible binding), so the print is very small and the information is quite dense for young readers. However, as a reference for the young fish enthusiast, it would be hard to find a better guide than this one, again without a single reference to fishing.  We chose this one because Dinomite loves sharks and many of the tropical fishes as well, but National Audubon Society has a whole series of books like this, each featuring fish from different regions around the world.

National Geographic Kids Everything Sharks: All the shark facts, photos, and fun that you can sink your teeth into is about the most accurate book title I've ever seen.  No questions about what this book is about: sharks, sharks, and more sharks.  Indeed, some of the images and facts about these incredible creatures are sobering if not altogether frightening.  Yet, to their credit, National Geographic manages to balance out the grim stuff with some light humor and photos of peaceful interactions between shark and man.  Basically, this book is a young shark lover's dream. Older shark fans will enjoy it too.

City Fish, Country Fish takes the most creative approach to the problem of making fish more interesting to study.  As we noted earlier, fish don't have much in the way of personality, so it's a challenge to entice young readers to read about them. Enter Mary Cerullo and Jeffrey Rotman. It never occurred to me to think of coral reefs as cities, and open ocean as the country, but surprisingly, it works. The focus on habitat adds another dimension to the fish featured in the book; some character to go along with their beautiful colors and elaborate fins and scales.  In all, it adds up to a reader-friendly experience, with amazing photography and a narrative style that makes it easier for kids to follow, rather than just bombarding them with facts.  It's a refreshing approach that made this book one of the best on our shelf this week.

Parrotfish (Nature's Children. Set 7) is a simple title from one of those book series that fill the shelves at your local library. The Grolier-produced Nature's Children Series is nice enough; they typically feature simple, straightforward writing that kids can read easily and understand, and feature lots of full-color photographs. So why include one here? And why parrotfish? Well, it turns out that one of the best approaches to the problem of making fish interesting is to focus on one species.  In the Montessori model, students are encouraged to explore specific topics within a subject area as they work through the elementary years. Having materials available that highlight one species of animal, for example, can really help foster this self-initiated exploration that is so central to the Montessori approach.  This is a good example of a book that meets that need perfectly.

Seahorses is another great example of how focusing on one species makes for a more engaging and enjoyable book.  Jennfer Keats Curtis and Chad Wallace team up to tell the story of how a baby seahorse grows, develops, mates and raises its' young, all told with simple text and beautiful illustrations.  Our kids, especially Princess, seem to really enjoy non-fiction books that are told in a story-like narrative. Seahorses are so unique in nature that a book about the seahorse life cycle is a no-brainer. But, the combination of Curtis' sweet, poetic text with Wallace's soft, dream-like pastels tell the story beautifully while sticking to the facts.  A winning formula for most young readers.

Crinkleroot's 25 Fish Every Child Should Know is a very simple, effective book from an author that we have featured a few times in previous book lists. Jim Arnosky is a favorite of ours, and his Crinkleroot alter ego is especially fun for the younger kids.  Arnosky is primarily an illustrator, but his love and enthusiasm for nature shine through in the brief descriptions of animals that accompany his beautiful illustrations.  The Krinkleroot books focus on animals and fish that most children can find close to home or in a nearby lake or forest.  This emphasis is great for inspiring outdoor exploration and discovery in young children, which is another major point of interest in the Montessori methodology.  As of this writing, this book is available only through third-party sellers online, but several Arnosky books are available on Amazon.

Trout, Trout, Trout!: A Fish Chant (American City Series) seems to give up on the question of making fish interesting, by focusing instead on how ridiculous some of their names are.  The creative team (Sayre and Park) have produced a handful of children's books in the same style as this one.  Park pairs his highly stylized paintings of each fish with the really obscure and hilarious fish names chosen by Sayre.  Park seems to really relish illustrating them all of their absurdist glory.  The rhymes are fun, and the chant-like nature of the text make it extra fun to read out loud.  This is Bulldozer's favorite book on the shelf this week.  

The Pout-Pout Fish is the only purely fictional book on our shelf this week, and what a choice it is.  Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna seem to have noticed that fish have no real personality, so why not make that the central premise of the book? The pout pout fish just looks sad and repeatedly tells all the other sea creatures that he can't get himself to look at things any other way besides, "blub, bluuub, bluuuuub." That is, until a new fish in the area appears on the scene and takes a different approach to cheering up the old pout pout fish.  This story has a lot of fun rhyme schemes and clever fish-related word play, but the moral of the story is the key; positive and simple without being overbearing or heavy-handed.  This book has become a huge hit on Amazon and is a New York Times bestseller.  For us, the book lives up to it's reputation, for the simple reason that it finally gave us a fish with a personality.

You can look forward to our newest fish unit coming soon!
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