DIY: Montessori Bead Bars

First, I just want to say that I am not a Montessori expert; I’ve barely read much on it. But being an eclectic homeschooler, I borrow a lot from wherever. After making my version of the Montessori Hundred Board, I realized that M still needed more manipulative work in truly understanding the numbers on the hundred board. A friend had previously mentioned Montessori Bead Bars, and they sounded perfect. Originally I was planning on using chenille stems and beads to make the bead bars, but since our toddler is very involved in what her big sisters are doing, I did not want to risk the bead bars being mouthed by the toddler, broken, etc, and I especially did not want it to be an activity that can only be done when the toddler is napping.

But it was important to me to keep the “bead bars” tactile; I wanted each individual “bead” to be felt. So Sharpie marker on craft sticks was not going to be enough. I have heard of gluing beans to craft sticks, but again, I knew that would be easily mouthed and destroyed by the toddler (and I really disliked the idea of gluing 100 beans or sequins, it seemed too tedious). If you are interested in making your own bead bars, I suggest checking out this blog, which has gathered a lot of ideas, and which, unfortunately, I did not find until after I made mine.

So, what did I settle on for our “bead bars”? I chose to use adhesive cardstock paper and craft sticks. Simple, quick, and effective, and it even survived the toddler’s mouth!

Now again, I have no idea of the Montessori-correct way of using bead bars. But here’s how we’ve been exploring them:

For C, the preschooler, I made paper templates for counting the teen numbers.

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars”

For M, the kindergartner, I made number cards and explained how to match the amounts to the number cards (with her Hundred Board nearby for reference as well). I modeled the activity after the “Matching Amounts and Numerals” from this PDF document I found online.

For example, first I placed a 40 card and a 2 card near each other, and said, “40 and 2 make 42”.

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

Then, I placed the number 2 card on the 40 card (making 42), and repeated the above statement.

The LipperLoppyLife: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

The LipperLoppyLife: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

Seriously, I could almost see the light-bulb clicking! She spent the next 20 minutes playing with these manipulatives. Eventually she started placing the tens on her hundred board to help her count out the higher numbers. How ingenious!

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

The LipperLoppy Life: DIY Montessori Bead Bars

And then she wanted to make numbers higher than 100, which caught me off-guard, as I had only prepared up to 100. I guess I will be making more tens this week! This activity also taught her how to skip count in tens very quickly. (She’s since picked up skip counting in twos as well, since we’ve checked out a library book about that.)

A Creative Morning

creative play

creative play

…Puppet theater play, homemade play-dough monster creations, 3-D puppet creations, and animal play…all perfectly accompanied with cookies and coffee.

yum!

yum!

All Things Bats

The second program this month from the local nature center was about Bats. I actually was rather unimpressed with this particular program, that had mostly to do with the leader (two leaders take turns each month, and this was our first time attending a program run by this particular leader). We actually learned more about bats on our drive to the nature center, when we listened to the audio that accompanied one of our library books. C was really excited on the drive, and kept exclaiming something “new” about bats as she listened. Auditory learner, perhaps? I think I will be checking out more audio books for her!

We still had a lot of fun learning about bats. We spent the whole day doing different batty activities, and by dinnertime, the girls had so much knowledge to share with Dada. Some of the batty facts that we learned included:

  • Bats live all around the world (except the poles).
  • A bat’s wing is composed of its arm and hand, with long fingers supporting the skin of the wing.
  • Bat’s toes are hook-shaped to easily hang upside down.
  • Bats are nocturnal.
  • Different types of bats eat different things; most species eat insects, but some eat fruit, fish, frogs, even blood.
  • Some bats use echolocation to navigate in the dark night. The bat makes a shout (that is too high for humans to hear) and listen to its echo to create a sound picture.
  • Bats sleep in a roost, which can be a building, cave, or tree.
  • Baby bats can’t fly. They stay in the roost huddled together or sometimes the Mama carries the baby when hunting.
  • Baby bats drink mama’s milk; to nurse, they cling to their Mama upside-down, while the Mama wraps her wings around the baby.
  • A Mama gives birth by hanging right-side-up by her thumbs, catching the baby with her tail, and then flipping back upside-down.
  • Bats are mammals, and they are the only flying mammals.

We first read (and listened to the accompanying audio cd) Bat Loves the Night. This was entertaining and highly educational. We also read Bats by Gail Gibbons (I am a fan of Gail Gibbons nature books!).

books bats

The girls were provided with some worksheets that they could do at their choosing. The worksheets included writing practice, a coloring page, connect-the-dots, a wordsearch puzzle, and a fold-a-bat craft. We looked at how the bone structure varies between a bat, bird and a human, and colored in the corresponding bones on this resource. We watched a few online videos (on Nature.com and Discovery.com). We even watched an echolocation music video (it was a wonderful way to practice saying that long word). We made bat masks.

130218 IMG_4317

The girls wanted to put on a bat puppet show for Dada that night. So I found a fingerplay song to use and we created puppets for the show. The girls used their big bat masks (above) to introduce the show, and then together we sang, “5 little bats went flying one night,…” with our Mama and baby bat puppets. (We did discuss how a Mama bat usually just has one baby, not five.) It was a little hard rehearsing the puppet show with the toddler climbing all over us (and stealing puppets) so we had to have a dress rehearsal when Dada was home to distract the toddler before the big show. It was fun!

The Bat Puppet Show

The Bat Puppet Show

Learning About Nocturnal Animals

A few weeks ago we attended a local nature storytime about owls and other nocturnal animals. They read Little Owl’s Night. As a special treat, they had a conservation educator bring in a hawk and a horned owl for a live presentation! Obviously, the hawk isn’t a nocturnal animal, but it was a great way to compare features between nocturnal and diurnal birds. Both birds were gorgeous, and it was so cool to be so close to them; a much more personal experience than the aviary or the zoo. At the end, we went outside to see the hawk fly.

Bubo the Horned Owl

Bubo the Horned Owl

flying hawk

flying hawk

We’ve studied Barn Owls last spring (reading books, dissecting owl pellets, and watching Barn Owl web cams) so the girls were already familiar with owls and nocturnal behavior. But we wanted to learn more about nocturnal animals. We got some great books from the library to read, including: Creatures of the Night, While the World is Sleeping, Where are the Night Animals?, and Whoo Goes There?.

books nocturnal animals

We made a T chart of nocturnal and diurnal animals (and one that is both, elephants!) and we made a collage of nocturnal animals. We put both of these projects in our new Animal Binder (so we can look back on things we’ve studied). We discussed advantages and adaptations for night-living (following this guide) and added the information to our Animal Binder as well.

above, Nocturnal Collage; below, Diurnal/Nocturnal T Chart

C colored some pictures of nocturnal animals while M worked on a word search puzzle that I made from an online puzzle generator. Online, we watched some BBC Nature clips, a video slideshow, and a puppet music video and played a few online games, finding hidden nocturnal animals and identifying animal sounds. One night before bedtime, we turned off the lights in the living room and played hide and seek in the dark, experiencing what it might be like to be an owl hunting a mouse and a mouse trying to hide. This was super fun, and no one made any major bumps.

As usual, there is always so much information available, so we still have plenty more to explore and learn about in the future. The girls were especially excited about owls again, so we have ordered some more owl pellets to dissect and have started watching the Barn Owl web cams again. I think we will always be checking in on those Barn Owls in Jan/Feb (when they lay eggs).  Hooray for web cams and YouTube videos!

Distracted Baking

Flat muffins. This is what happens when baking powder and baking soda are left out of a muffin recipe. I’m not that great of a baker, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that this happened to me. And of course, this wasn’t a baking moment with the children, though they were my main distraction. I would also like to place some of the blame on the recipe itself, a blogger’s recipe in which the dry and wet ingredients were all over the place, instead of in order of use. The muffins did still taste good to the girls; they barely lasted a day. And this morning I had to redeem myself and baked another batch of muffins (from a different recipe), with all three girls helping as well. Those turned out perfect, beautiful, and yummy.

flat muffins

flat muffins

Amur Leopard, Acids and Bases, and Art

Today started out like every other morning…when the kids wake up they climb out of bed and start playing in the playroom. Sometime after the toddler wakes, I struggle to get myself out of bed and make breakfast. I am so looking forward to when the toddler sleeps the night through, so I can actually wake up before the kids. But right now, as it has been for six years, I desperately try to cling to sleep each morning. We have, however, reached a new milestone in this household: as M is one month shy of turning six, she is staying in her bed all-night-long!  No more climbing into the family bed for her, hooray!

I was just starting to get everyone ready for running errands this morning (we have some birthday presents to buy and valentines to mail) when I got a text from a friend seeing if we would be interested in going to the zoo. Today was a relatively good air day, so I had planned to take advantage and get outside, and the zoo just seemed sooo much more fun than running errands. It was just what I (and the girls) needed. We have been sticking around home (except for classes and errands) way too much in the last few months. And it was so good to chat with a dear friend that I never get to see enough of.

At the zoo, we were blessed to see a training session for the Amur Leopard, so cool! We were warned that the leopard might not participate at all, because, being a cat and all, the leopard does only what it wants to do. My smart friend likened that to children; if only most parents realized this instead of trying to force children to do things! The leopard did do some training exercises, opening his mouth for dental checks, lifting paws for health checks, rolling on the floor (for fun), all for the yummy meatball treats (and not your normal meatball; these included all the body parts, intestines, bones, etc just as a leopard would eat in the wild). It was definitely the highlight of our short zoo trek. (Well, I think the toddler’s highlight was clucking at the chickens walking around the zoo grounds.)

Amur Tiger training

Amur Tiger training

Today we also did some quick science play, dropping colored vinegar in bowls of baking soda. I talked a lot about the double displacement reaction, but really, the girls were just focused on watching the bubbles and trying to mix the colors. Great, great fun! Some say it occupies their kids for hours, but my eldest lasted about 15 minutes, and C probably 30 minutes.

Vinegar-Baking Soda Fun

Vinegar-Baking Soda Fun

One of the reasons my eldest didn’t spend much time on the experiment is because she was excited to get back to a project she had started. She had been asking me if we could buy another sticker dolly book, but since I said we could not right now, she decided to make her own sticker book. We stapled a book together, and she started drawing in pictures (she even is making 3 characters, modeled after the sicker dolly books, though her characters are her and her sisters). Oh my goodness, I just realized that she put our dog in her book too. My heart! C started working on hers too, drawing a butterfly. When they are done drawing in pictures, they will then add stickers that M has already cut out in bowls for them. (Will I not have to buy any more of these books?)

Homemade Sticker Books

Homemade Sticker Books

It was a great day, topped off with fresh-from-the-oven Banana Honey Oatmeal Bread. Mmmmm!

  • "Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " - John Holt
  • LipperLoppy? what???

    “LipperLoppy” is a word that my daughters invented. It is usually used as a silly adjective or noun. It's a frequent family joke and a good representation of our family's crazy joyful life.
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