Volcanoes! They’re so exciting. Any kindergartener will be instantly interested and motivated in studying this natural phenomenon.
I’ve begun a volcano unit with Peanut this week, so I thought I’d share what I have planned so far with you.
First, you have to know that we live surrounded by volcanoes. There are 3 of them easily visible from our house, here in Guatemala, a country home to over 30 volcanoes. So, they are part of the landscape. Peanut enjoys watching volcanic eruptions from our house, whether they are just puffs of smoke and ash or fiery night-time displays.
So, what can you do to study volcanoes?
Make Your Own Volcano
There are a few ways to do this, and it makes a great opener to your unit. You’ll inspire your little one for sure.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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:
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!
Peanut has really enjoyed our first geography lessons. What did we start with?
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.
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!
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?
“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.
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!
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.
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.