Saturday, March 28, 2020

Sorting & Sequencing Activities for home

You can help your child practice skills of sorting into categories, matching like things, making patterns, and putting items in order without any specialized materials. These activities can be done with items in your house or things you find outside.
You can go for a walk (or likely just step a few feet outside) to gather some sticks, leaves, stones, flowers, etc. for these activities.

Matching and Sorting into categories 

a collection of leaves, ready for pairing
matching leaves

matching leaves to their leaf rubbing (also an art option!)
Sorting objects into groups (also called "classifying") begins with simple tasks for 2-3 years old (ex: spoons vs. forks; cars or stuffed animals, sticks or leaves), and can be made increasingly more challenging as the child grows through their school years.  Objects can be classified (sorted) by: size, shape, color, type, or other characteristics. Some ideas for categories:
- flowers, sticks, and leaves (sorting by type)
- types of coins (give them a handful of change to sort)
- types of beans/grains 
It's great to take the same objects and see if your child can come up with more than one way to sort them. Some items can also be sorted with eyes closed or a blindfold to increase the challenge! 

Comparing and sequencing

Children can compare two objects by different characteristics - which stick is longer? Which leaf is a darker green? Which object is heavier? 
The next level of challenge is to put a group of objects in order. Examples - biggest to smallest, longest to shortest, darkest to lightest shade of a color, heaviest to lightest, roughest to smoothest. Here's some samples: 

Comparing - which is heavier?

Objects sequenced from heaviest to lightest

Objects collected by a child to sequence by length

Sequencing - putting sticks in order from longest to shortest


Another form of sequencing is to create patterns. You can do this with anything around the house - legos, hair barrettes, dry beans, cereal, spoons & forks, etc. It also works great with things you find outdoors - different kinds of sticks, leaves, stones, flowers, etc.

A simple alternating pattern
A more complicated pattern

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Vocab Games

Learning new words 

"Bring me" game with kitchen tools

Introduce your child to the names of a few new kitchen tools (ladle, whisk, can opener, cutting board, strainer/colander, etc.).

  • Hint: Only use 3 new words at a time, but mix in additional familiar items for the game
1) Name the object ("this is a whisk!"), have the child repeat it - ("Can you say whisk?), and briefly say what it does ("we use a whisk to mix up liquids like eggs and pancake batter!")
  • Hint: Repetition is key - the more the child hears and says the new word, the faster they can get it in their long-term memory 

2) "Show me" - After you have introduced 2-3 new words, say "show me the _____." After they pick it up or point to it, ask "what is it?" so they have practice repeating the word. This step makes sure the child is connecting the new words with the correct tools.
3) "Bring me" - Go to another part of the house and tell the child, "bring me the _____. What are you going to bring?" (checking to make sure they heard the word correctly)
  • Hint: Distance in this game has several benefits - the child has to keep the word in their mind for longer, which strengthens their memory. Incorporating movement increases learning, and it also gets them a little exercise. One more benefit - this activity gives adults a chance to multi-task, helping another child or doing their own tasks in another part of the house!
Variations: play this game with office supplies, first aid items, household lines, tools, etc.

Vocab movement game

After introducing the new vocabulary, give the child instructions on where to take each item (Put the watering can beside the tree!" "Put the leaf on the steps!") Once the items have been placed in different locations, ask, "do you remember where the watering can is?" (give a clue if they have forgotten). Notice that in addition to practicing vocabulary, they are also getting movement and working with position words (on, beside, under, etc.)


Suggest a category and see how many things you and your child can think of for that category (examples: fruits, clothing, colors, animals, etc.) Ready for more challenge? The leader names a category out loud and thinks of one thing in that category. The others take turns guessing things from that category until someone guesses what the leader was thinking of, then they become the leader.

Other categories to try: How many things can you think of that are:
bigger than a bus? smaller than an orange?
- toppings you can put on pizza? on an icecream sundae?
- sparkly?
- have wheels?


Play a game where you name a word and your child says the opposite. Examples: up/down, wet/dry, cold/hot, short/tall, in/out, over/under, happy/sad, clean/dirty Another way to play is to ask a question that confuses a pair and let your child correct you. (“Is fire cold?” “Is water dry?”) Your child may want a turn saying the first word, and you come up with the opposite. (Don’t worry, if you’re stumped, you can always ask your child for help!)


Prepositions are the words that tell us where something is – on, under, beside, in front of, behind, in, etc. This is a game to help them practice using these words. Pick any two objects in your house (pillow & a toy; spoon and napkin, small object and a cup – anything!) Position the two objects and tell your child, “Look, the bear is in front of the pillow!” then move the object and ask your child, “Now where is the bear?” (If they aren’t sure, try giving them two options – ex: “Is the bear on the pillow or beside the pillow?”) Keep it fun & playful!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Indoor Movement Ideas

Stuck inside today? Or just need a little movement break? Here are some ideas

Freeze Dance 

Play any music your child enjoys dancing to, and tell them to freeze when the music stops. Pause the music a few times during the song and say, "freeze!" (This game helps children learn to control their movement and remember rules.)

Follow the Leader

Tell your child to watch closely and do what you do. Start doing a motion and have your child imitate you, then swtich to a new motion. Once your child has the hang of following, let them be the leader and you follow their moves. Examples to get started: clap, jump, march, flap arms, squat & stand, shake hips, etc.

Red Light, Green Light

“Red light” means stop/freeze, and “green light” means to go/continue. You can play this game in many ways – while walking down a sidewalk, inside dancing, jumping, or any other movement. (At this age, kids enjoy the challenge of listening and controlling their movements, and aren’t as interested in a competitive game.) Most kids also enjoy having a turn to be the one calling “red light/green light” for others.


When we have to have indoor recess at school, we often use videos from Here are some of the class' favorites this year (and the names the children use to refer to them). After you make your free account, use the search feature to find these songs.

  • Catman in Space (aka "Space cat")
  • Believer  (aka "Hey! or That One We’re Really Good At!)
  • Little Green Froggy
  • Zap it
  • This or that - (aka "That Song" or "Cameron’s song")
  • Dinosaur Stomp - (aka Dino Stomp)
  • Wobbly Man
  • Racing Heart
  • Perrito Feliz - (aka "The Little Dancing Puppy Song")
  • It’s Your Birthday - (aka The Birthday Song")
  • Pump It - (aka "The Workout Song")
  • Melting
  • Clap It Out - (aka "The Syllable Song")
  • Baby Shark
  • Go Bananas
  • Run the Red Carpet
  • Chicken Dance
  • Class Dismissed
  • Slo-Mo Machine - (aka "Slow Motion Machine")
  • Get Loose
Let us know if you discover some new favorites so we can share with the class!

Other Indoor Movement Resources:

Animal Yoga with Koya Webb
Dino Yoga
Cosmic Kids Yoga (creative storytelling involves kids doing movement to help tell the story)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Writing Skills to practice at home

There are two aspects to writing - 
1) the cognitive task of identifying the sounds in a word and knowing the letter symbols to represent each sound
2) the mechanical/physical task of using a writing utensil to form the letters and words (Handwriting skills)

In the classroom, we work on each of these aspects separately, bringing them together when the child has mastered both components. 
Below are some ways you can help your child develop these skills while learning from home

Handwriting Skills

We can do a lot of indirect preparation to build your child's strength and coordination for writing:

Beginning skills:

  • drawing and coloring (thick crayons or markers are ideal for helping young children first develop a 3-finger pencil hold instead of the toddler fist grip)
  • knobbed puzzles use the 3 fingers needed for writing
  • tracing - at school the trace the shapes of the metal insets; at home get creative and let them trace the base of any objects - cups, cans, boxes, toys, etc.
    (and if you are running low on paper supplies, you can make use of junk mail, envelopes, empty cereal boxes, etc.!)
    • Try this simple art project tracing everyday objects from our art teacher, Ms. Cuccinotta

Intermediate skills - how to form individual letters & numbers:

We start with cursive! See this guide for how to teach the way to form each letter
  • Cornmeal tray - fill a deep plate or shallow baking tray/dish with cornmeal a thin layer of cornmeal. Model forming a letter or number and have your child repeat it (over and over!), and then try it on their own
  • Chalk (on a chalkboard or outside on the sidewalk or a building) 
Cognitive Writing
Many children have a grasp of letter sounds before they have the strength and coordination to write well with a pencil. The movable alphabet lets children practice the mental task of sounding out words.
Important - in preschool and kindergarten, we want children to focus on sounding out words, not to worry about getting the spelling "right". Encourage them to be Writers!

Putting them together: kindergarten writing activities

  • Labeling - on strips of paper (can be scrap paper / junk mail!), your child can sound out words to label things in the house. Example - how many things can they label in the kitchen? (sink, fridge, fork, spoon) - they might get just a few of the sounds in the word, and that is okay
  • Lists - let your child make your grocery list, a list of healthy snack ideas, activities they can do if they're bored, anything!
  • Story paper - They can draw a picture and then write about it below. (We encourage kindergartners to do at least one sentence; 3 is the goal by the end of the year)
  • Write a letter - expecially in this time of limited social gatherings, have your child write a letter to a grandparent, relative, or friend! (If your child's writing is hard to decipher, you can include a translation under their words or on a separate paper)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Language Games - Phonemic Awareness Skills

What is Phonemic Awareness?

To become effective readers and writers, children need a strong awareness of the sounds that make up words. These skills of hearing, identifying, and working with the sounds in words are called phonemic awareness
We do lots of games and activities in the classroom to build phonemic awarenessand these games are perfect to practice at home - or anywhere! - because they don't require any materials. They are totally spoken, so you could even play them in the dark. 
We start with the simplest skills with our 3-year-olds, and keep increasing the challenge as their skills advance. At each level, we provide as much support as they need to feel successful - the key is that they stay engaged and motivated so that they can get the amount of repetition and practice they need to strengthen each skill.  

Introductory Games


Rhyming is an important pre-reading skill that young children can learn & strengthen with practice.

#1 - "I'm thinking of" 

Pick a category (fruits, forms of transporation, colors, etc.) and tell your child - "I'm going to think of different fruits and see if you can guess which one I'm thinking of."
Say a word (real or nonsense) that rhymes with the fruit - "I'm thinking of a fruit that rhymes with "nare" - what is it? .... 'pear!" (then repeat the rhyming pair together a few times. - "Nare, pear! Near, pear! they rhyme!)

#2 - "Let's think of words that rhyme with _____" 

Say, “Let’s think of words that rhyme with____” (“bat”, for example). You may be the only one thinking of words at first – and that’s okay. Your child can repeat the rhymes you say, and soon they’ll be making their own. Variation: your child names something they see (bread, plate, car, tree, etc) and you rhyme with their words.

#3 - Two words

Say two words. Have your child say them back to you and tell you if they rhyme or not (“blue, shoe. Do they rhyme? (Yes!) “one, sun” “rug, cat” etc.) Try to do a random mix of rhyming and non-rhyming, but not alternating – kids are smart and will figure out the pattern instead of listening for the rhyme!
Variation: instead of saying 'yes' or 'no', your child can give a thumbs up or thumbs down to say whether or not the words rhyme.

Beginning Sounds

Two words

"I'm going to say two words, and you say them back to me.  If they have the SAME beginning sound, give me a thumbs up. If they are NOT the same, give me a thumbs down."  
Example "rrrrun, rrrabbit"... (child repeats, gives thumbs up ).. "run and rabbit both start with the sound 'rrr'
  • Always start a few pairs that have the same beginning sound to prep the child's ears
  • Don't alternate match / non-match - your child will catch onto the pattern and 
  • Exaggerate the beginning sounds ("mmmmouse, mmmmat"... "ssssink, aaaaapple") until your child is confident and consistent, then make it more challenging

"I Spy" Sound Game  – Beginning sounds

Level 1: You say the beginning sound of an object and the child identifies the object. Start simple! (“I spy something you’re holding that starts with ‘fff’” when a fork is the only thing in their hand) and gradually make it more challenging (”I spy something on your face that starts with ‘nnn’” 
Watch this short video on how to play "I spy" game
For more details about how to play (including video clips) and the next levels of challenge (ending sounds, middle sounds, and segmenting all the sounds), I recommend this post by Maitri Learning


Compound Words

Separating the syllables of compound words (2 words stuck together to make a new word) is the first step in segmenting skills. Video example

Advanced Phonemic Awareness Games

“Slow-motion” word game

To become effective readers and writers, children need a strong awareness of the sounds that make up words. Here is a pre-reading skill to practice at home: Say a word in “slow-motion” (“ssssiiiiittt”)
and ask your child if they can tell what your word is. If this seems easy for your child, increase the challenge by adding a pause between the sounds in the word – this requires them to work harder to blend the sounds (mmmm-ou-ssss (mouse)). Remember to keep it fun and give as much support as your child needs to feel successful.
Example: Video of Blending game

Sound segmenting word game

Here is another phonemic awareness skill (awareness of sounds in words) to practice at home that helps prepare your child to become an effective reader and writer: Say a word and then sound it out verbally with your child, segmenting the different sounds that make up a word (c-a-t; sh-ee-p, etc.) To help children keep track of the sounds, we use “finger spelling” – make a fist and starting with the thumb, put up a finger for each sound you say. This is a challenging skill – it’s okay if you model segmenting a word, then have the child repeat it with you. 
Watch a short video showing how to teach sound segmenting
Song to practice sound segmenting - "In the Woods there was a Tree"
Video with rainforest themed rhyming and segmenting activities

Math Games to practice at home

Beginning Math Activities

"Subitizing" is the ability to see at a glance how many there are (example - if there are 3 oranges sitting on a table, you can tell without counting that there are 3. Here's a short video explaining how to help your child build this skill. Let me know if you have any questions and tell me how it goes!
We practice forming quantities on our fingers along with singing "Yellow is the Sun" (can also be said as a poem)

Quantities 1-10

The first skill children need to master is learning quantities 1-10, beginning with 1-5. 
1. Form numbers on fingers (I made this short video to show how to do it! We recommend learning quantities on fingers first!
2. Form numbers with color tiles (start with 1-5). Explore ways to arrange 4 or 5. Our favorite is the "4 square" & "5 pyramid"

3. Form numbers with tally sticks (5th stick goes straight across other 4)

Other early math activities:


Grouping in 5s

Child takes a handful of objects (barrettes, legos, spoons, rocks, etc.) and then puts them in groups of 5 to tell how many there are without counting (start with 10 or fewer):

Monday, March 16, 2020

Movable alphabet - Home learning instructions

You can cut apart the laminated letters, and find 2 empty egg cartons to store them in (requires doubling up 2 pairs of letters to get 26 letters in 24 compartments; I suggest w/x and y/z)

Introduction to Movable Alphabet at home (video for caregivers)

Activity 1 with the movable alphabet (video for caregivers)

Setting a Schedule for Montessori Learning at Home

Guidelines for Montessori learning at home
Our goal during this time of learning at home is to collaborate with families to keep the Montessori culture of learning alive and support the developmental needs of each child.
Setting a schedule for the day:
Routines are helpful for young children - the predictability of knowing what to expect helps them feel secure and become more independent. As much as you are able, try to keep a familiar rhythm to your days - not a rigid, to the minute schedule, but a predictable flow. (see article by Jana Morgan Herman on Consistency & Routines for more info)

Here is a sample day that would feel familiar to their school days (adapt to fit your family needs):
7-8: Wake up, get dressed, breakfast, brush teeth
8-8:30: Focused time with adult - story, poem, language game, math activity
8:30-10:30: Independent choice & practice time (including snack), clean up for last 10 min.
10:30-11:30: Outside exploration/play
11:30-12: Help prepare lunch
12-12:30: Lunch and clean up
12:30-1:30: Rest time/ quiet activity time (longer if needed for napping child)
1:30-2: Instruction time with adult (or continue independent work if focused)
2-4: Independent choice & skills practice time
4-5: Outside
Your home and surroundings are your child’s learning environment. We will help you find ways to support independence, engage in meaningful tasks and supplement learning through various activities suggested by teachers.

Here are the most important things to do each day (that are proven to have the most impact on your child’s success):
  1. Spend time outside
    (avoid crowded areas/times)
  2. Read together
    (we will include links to books online, which can be substituted for another book of interest to your child)
  3. Limit screen time! Encourage free play
    (1 hour a day or less is recommended for children under 6)
  4. Involve children in planning, preparing and cleaning up meals & snacks Try to eat at least one meal as a family each day, practicing conversation & manners