Sink or Float: A Preschool Science Experiment

Preschool science experiments are a joy. I’ve never met a child who doesn’t enjoy experiments…there’s something about moving things around and often getting a bit messy that awakens curiosity, excitement, and wonder.

Well, it’s been a few months since we did this, but Peanut really enjoyed a common preschool science experiment called “Sink or Float.” It’s about as simple as it sounds!

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Here’s what we did:

I gathered some materials that sink and float such as: a coin, a plastic medicine cup, a twig, two rocks, and a lemon. There ended up being 3 items that floated and 3 items that sank. I suggest you look for items that are made out of different materials such as wood, plastic, food items, metal and nature items. We’re lucky to live near a volcano, so one of the rocks was pumice, and so it floated!

I also prepared 2 labels, one which said “sinks” and one that said “floats.” You’ll also need a rag or cloth handy. We also used a magnifying glass for careful observations of each of the objects. Here’s the setup:

Preschool Experiment Setup

To present this to Peanut, I invited him to the carpet and had him fill up a large, glass bowl. Then, I demonstrated placing one of the items that sank in the bowl and noticing how it sank. I said, “It sinks”. Then I placed it under the label “sinks”. We noticed how it started with the “ssss” sound. Then, it was Peanut’s turn. He figured out very quickly which label was which and also enjoyed looking at each of the items with a magnifying glass. He LOVED how one of the rocks floated and the other sank…and observing the holes in the pumice.

Preschool Experiment with Magnifying Glass

A few days later, he had gathered a whole collection of rocks ready, saying “Mama, these are for my school.” I guess we’ll have some rock study coming up soon. Luckily we just got a National Geographic book about rocks from Grandma and Grandpa. What a lucky boy!

So, that’s how you can do a simple experiment with your preschooler.

Looking for an extension?

We repeated this experiment with salt water and fresh water while studying the ocean. The salt water meant that some things floated that would usually sink in fresh water. We had luck with a slice of carrot which floated in the salt water, but not in the fresh water. I think it really takes a lot of salt to make much of a difference. In any case, we enjoyed learning about fresh water and salt water.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Montessori Math for Kindergarteners: Part 4 in a Series About How to Teach Your Child at Home

Montessori math for kindergarteners is an exciting world of impressive, well-developed manipulatives. This is a material intensive area of the curriculum and one that is often a bit intimidating for those who aren’t familiar with the materials.

We started out with very few of these materials in math, and so far are doing just fine. But, if my Peanut made this subject area his favorite, then I’d have a lot of work to do making more materials!

What did we start with?

Spindle Boxes – A Variation

The traditional Montessori math spindle boxes lay flat and use rounded sticks. But, with a lack of resources, we went ahead and made our very own set featuring toilet paper rolls and popsicle sticks! Simple, yet effective.

This fantastic material serves the purpose of helping the child learn the numeral figures and teaching equivalence (meaning that 5 isn’t just a number we say, it means 5 objects). Rather than simply learning to count, children learn the feeling of 1 object, 3 objects, 9 objects, etc. One great feature of this material is that it includes zero, meaning that children also get a sense of “nothing.”

Peanut really got a kick out of zero the first time we did this. “Nothing?” he said, surprised. “Yes, I said, nothing.” He promptly responded “Crazy zero!”

How do you teach it?

I taught Peanut this material by demonstration. And, as you’ll notice, spindle boxes are separated into two sections. One section is for 0-4, and the other for 5-9. I invited him to try 0-4 first. In my case, he wanted to keep going, but you should always follow your child.

Here’s what we did:

  1. I presented the material to Peanut, explaining to him that we were going to work on something new.
  2. We counted, pointing at each number from 0-4.
  3. I counted out the correct number of spindles on the carpet first, and then placed them in the correct tube. So, I counted “1,2” sticks on the carpet before transferring them to the “2” tube.
  4. We kept going in this manner until we were finished! Although after about number 2 Peanut wanted to do it, so we did it together all the way up to 9.

**A note: If you’re only using the first set of 0-4, remove the extra sticks. You should only enough sticks to fill boxes 0-4. Having no sticks left at the end is part of the control of error, letting the child know the activity has been completed correctly.

Bead Stair

This is another basic Montessori math material that helps children learn to count, the concept that numbers relate to a quantity and recognize numerals.

I made my bead set using yarn and beads. The numbers are made from foam paper so that they are easy to pick up and move around. I also highly recommend using felt as a mat for working with the beads so they don’t roll around on the table (if you’re working on a table).

How do you present this material?

With Peanut, I started out showing him the beads. We counted them in order and in the triangle formation, 1-9. Then, I mixed up the beads and we put them back in order, slowly counting them.

Next, I presented the number cards with the beads, but only from 1-3. Then, he worked on putting the correct numeral beside each bead chain (as above). I only work with 3 numbers at a time so it’s not too frustrating.

Extensions – FREE WORKSHEET!

I also made some worksheet style extensions to use with the beads. One is a simple sheet showing the bead triangle that he can color using the same colors as the beads. I wrote the numbers in pencil next to each chain so that he could trace the numbers.

Someday soon, I’ll get out this addition sheet as well. This will require an extra set of bead chains, and focuses on the concept of adding two quantities together. For this worksheet, the child should recreate the equation shown in beads on the sheet, color the beads and then show the answer. The answer can be either drawn beads or in written numerals.

Get your very own bead triangle worksheet and addition worksheet here: Bead stair and addition Volcano Mama

The Math of Everyday Life

Peanut isn’t super excited about math and counting. So, we make a point to practice counting and adding during our every day life. Here are some simple ways you can include math and counting in your life with a little one:


We put up the date on our calendar every day and count how many days of the month have gone by. 


Peanut often helps me bake. So we count how many cups of flour, teaspoons of salt and pinches of spices go into our recipes. Here he is in the thick of making cinnamon rolls:

Counting On the Go

We count dogs, red cars, motorcycles and anything else that occurs to us while going for walks around town.

These are just a few ways we’re incorporating math into our lives. In other homeschool activities, we measure objects and animals (like snakes!), which is another great way to incorporate math and keep things multidisciplinary.

Future Math

There are soooo many math materials and things to do with Montessori math. From the addition strip boards to the golden beads, number rods and more, there is a lot of math to do. I’m sure as Peanut develops his interest, I’ll come up with ways to create these materials without breaking the bank.

What’s your favorite part about Montessori math for kindergarteners?

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Montessori Math for Kindergarteners- Part 4 in a Series About How to Teach Your Child at Home

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Montessori Language for Kindergarteners: Part 3 in a Series About How to Teach Your Child at Home

Montessori language for kindergarteners is an addiction of mine. It’s one of my favorite things to have fun with, adding in new activities and shaking things up as much as possible. Lucky for me, Peanut loves it too! He’s been flowering, really showing interest in learning letter sounds and even starting to write them on his own.

Montessori Language for Kindergarteners

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To be honest, we started working on this months ago. You can see how we started learning the ABCs in this post here.

So, when I started homeschooling more officially, I knew Peanut would be into it. Here’s what I included to get started:

Rice TrayHere’s how I presented the rice tray to Peanut:

  1. First I traced the paper letter (we’re getting REAL sandpaper letters with Grandma and Grandpa’s upcoming visit…but in a pinch it works to trace the shape). At the end of the trace, I said the letter sound (not its name! – for example “sssss” for an “s” or “eeeeh” for an “e”).
  2. Then, I drew it in the rice.
  3. Peanut’s turn! I helped him trace on the paper, reminding him where to start the trace if necessary. Then, he traced in the rice.

Here he is in action:

Sound Pouches

Sound pouches are probably my favorite piece of the Montessori language for kindergarteners curriculum. Children love small objects and can manipulate them, experience them.

I must confess, I haven’t made the cute little pouches yet, but we’re using objects that begin with certain letter sounds. I found plenty of objects to work with in our toy basket. I only made them up for the letters Peanut is currently working with, so “m, a, s, e, t, c, o”.

Here’s an example of what you can include. For “s” I have a spider, snake and star. For “e” I have an envelope, elephant and egg.

To present one pouch:

  1. I start by showing him the letter (in my case, just the letter written on a piece of paper, ideally it would be the sandpaper letter). We trace it and make the letter’s sound.
  2. I say “We’re going to look at some objects that start with the sound ___”
  3. Then, we say each object’s name and place them below the letter.

Once two pouches have been presented, we mix the objects up. We then say each object’s name and return it to the correct letter.


We have a whiteboard in our school room. Peanut loves getting out his box of letters that I wrote out for him and observing them, tracing them, and then writing them on the whiteboard. The other day at church he even wrote out some pretty impressive letters rather than drawing as he normally would. The interest is high!


Games are great fun. I invent new games as I see Peanut work. I always try to involve movement as much as possible. We had some extra empty labels to use, and what’s more fun than stickers for preschool/kindergartener aged children? See what we have been up to almost every day at school since I introduced this game:

Fine Motor Practice

Peanut has pretty good fine motor control. He enjoys drawing and practicing writing his letters, and we’ll continue to work on this. I’ve also ordered the metal insets for him to continue working on this. These are essentially stencils that children use to trace different shapes. Then they practice filling them in, first using straight lines, and then you can use curved lines, zig zags, etc. I’m looking forward to working with him on this.


We read books daily with Peanut (and his little sister!). Whether it’s a bedtime story or an afternoon relaxing activity, he loves to hear stories. I think this is so important for literacy and growing his interest in language. We also work on story retelling skills. He’s become a great storyteller himself. His stories usually end in a fit of laughter – funny is usually the key ingredient.

That’s what we’ve been up to so far! I’m excited to make more materials and start having him form words using the letters he knows. I also think he’s ready to start adding some more letters to his list, so we’ll start on that too.

What is your favorite Montessori language for kindergarteners lesson?

Looking to get started with Montessori homeschooling? Find out how we started off with this helpful overview of materials and some ideas for how to get set up.



Montessori Geography for Kindergarteners: Part 2 in a Series About How to Teach Your Child at Home

Montessori geography for kindergarteners is such fun! Kids love the hands-on approach to learning about their world. Montessori designed the primary or preschool program to help answer children’s questions about the world we live in.

Quick note – this is part 2 in a series about how to begin Montessori Homeschooling. Click here to see part 1!

Montessori Geography for Kindergarteners

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Peanut has really enjoyed our first geography lessons. What did we start with?

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How to Start Montessori Homeschooling: Part 1 in a Series About How to Teach Your Child at Home

We are in week two of Montessori Homeschooling! It’s the beginning of what will surely be an amazing journey. As I’m just getting started, all of the preparation is fresh in my mind.

I taught for several years in a primary Montessori classroom and still found it hard to put together the materials I wanted to use to start homeschooling with Peanut (age 4 – born in January)! So, I decided to put together a series about how to teach your child at home, with a focus on how to start Montessori homeschooling, in hopes to help others as they begin.

I’m a member of a few Montessori groups on facebook, and it seems common for people to worry about which materials to purchase or make, how to set up the classroom and what to start with. It makes sense. After all, these seem to be the main tools for learning. I, like many homeschoolers, started by thinking about what to use in our classroom space and it seemed like I needed all of the Primary Montessori materials at once. I wanted the pink tower, brown stair, sandpaper letters, spindle boxes, geography puzzles, zoology puzzles and much, much more!

Quickly, I realized that this wish list wouldn’t be possible financially or practically (we live in Guatemala…no online shopping here!). But, I also started to realize that it’s actually not necessary either.

Start Montessori Homeschooling by Following Your Child

Before I get into what I decided to include in our homeschooling beginnings, I want to say that as a Montessori teacher I LOVE and see value in all Montessori materials. I took a less traditional approach when putting our classroom together because I believe it’s more important to follow the philosophy than it is to provide all of the materials.

How to Start Montessori Homeschooling- Part 1 in a Series About How to Teach Your Child at Home

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DIY Stamps for Kids: Ideal for Busy Bags and Quiet Time

Kids love stamps. There’s something so satisfying about creating a perfect drawing on paper using stamps. They can be combined to create something fantastic and unique. Somehow, kids never grow bored using stamps.

It’s hard to find regular old stamps around here (in Guatemala). Most of them are made for teachers and have something like “Excelente!” written on them. So, I decided to put together some DIY stamps for kids…specifically for Peanut with some of his favorite things. I put them together for his birthday. He was thrilled!

DIY Stamps for Kids - Ideal for Busy Bags and Quiet Time (1)

These DIY stamps for kids are ideal for throwing into a busy bag for church, a meeting or long car ride. You could also break them out when you need a bit of quiet time at home. Peanut loved getting these out while his sister was napping – which was perfect timing. He was quietly busy, and his sister didn’t get in his way trying to destroy  play with them as well.

How did I do it?

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Hug Your Way to an Independent Child

“Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama!” is about the way a few hours of every day goes for me with my 17 month old. She insistently calls for me and wants to be held, hugged and paid attention to. So, we read books, sing together, cuddle, and sometimes often times I find myself completing tasks with one hand while she’s happily perched on my hip.

But, like many moms, I put up with it and try to enjoy it as much as I can. She’ll only be this little so long. I know that it’s only a matter of time before she becomes more independent.

My nearly four-year-old on the other hand is quite independent. He likes the occasional snuggle and asks to be played with from time to time. But, most of the time he can be found happily digging with his  trucks in the dirt, coloring pictures beside me while I work or making up an intricate story line with a few model dinosaurs. He also likes to help wash dishes and hang up laundry or page through a book.

As a baby and toddler, my son was similar to my daughter. He was attached to me or his father at most times. While he enjoyed wandering off on his own to play for a while, he was more often than not like velcro.

That’s my real life experience that shows me that being close and connected leads to independence. But, there’s more to it than one mom’s journey.

Hug Your Way to an Independent Child (1)

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A DIY Magnet Busy Board For Story Telling Fun

One of our favorite activities with the kids is making up stories, retelling stories and just general fun playing pretend. We often find ourselves using props such as model dinosaurs, cars, blocks to build houses, castles and bridges and dishes for making food. When we made our Clifford story retelling puppets we had such a blast I knew we had to come up with another story telling tool. So, I give you our very own DIY Magnet Busy Board for Story Telling Fun!

A DIY Magnet Busy Board For Story Telling Fun

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Story retelling and story telling is such an important skill for little ones! It improves their reading comprehension, promotes a greater understanding of sequencing and increases creativity and vocabulary. You can’t go wrong spending time story telling with your little ones.

Our DIY magnet busy board was fun and easy to make, and we did it with a few extras we had lying around. All we had to purchase was some spray paint and magnet strip. Follow the steps below to make your very own.

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Freedom: What Did Montessori Have in Mind?

Freedom- What Did Montessori Have in Mind-

Freedom. The ability to move around. Freedom to choose. Picking what activities to complete and in what order. This strikes fear into the hearts of many parents. Perhaps you think that the absence of control must certainly result in mayhem and chaos. Perhaps you wonder how this freedom thing could possibly work?

Whether at home or at school, freedom is an integral part of using the Montessori philosophy. However, this freedom shouldn’t cause you anxiety. It serves a purpose.

Freedom- What Did Montessori Have in Mind-

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What are Sensitive Periods and How Can You Use Them? Montessori Applied to Parenting

What are Sensitive Periods and How Can You Use Them? Montessori Applied to Parenting

It must be some sort of rule. All toddlers seem to LOVE water play. And have you ever noticed how at a certain stage, babies become determined to move on their own, struggling until they achieve the ability to walk?

These are examples of sensitive periods.

Throughout childhood, children experience a number of sensitive periods. Some last for years at a time, and others may only last several months. Montessori coined the phrase “sensitive periods” to refer to times when children have an especially strong motivation and interest to learn about a particular subject or master a certain skill. In her observations, she discovered that many children share a lot of the same interests around the same time in their development.

What are Sensitive Periods and How Can You Use Them? Montessori Applied to Parenting

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How Can You Use Them?

As parents and teachers, we can take advantage of these sensitive periods to help guide our children’s learning. A perfect example is language. Montessori noticed that children experience a sensitive period in language from birth through about age 6.

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