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Summertime Music and Movement Activities

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Activity Submitted by Elaine

Numeral Dance

Tune: Do Your Ears Hang Low?

Directions: Give each child a magnetic numeral or numeral card to hold in their hand. Ask children to name the numeral they are holding. Demonstrate each of the movements called for in the song (wiggle, tap, twist, and so on). Invite children to listen carefully for their numeral and then move as directed by the lyrics.

The numeral dance is fun.
It starts with numeral one.
There’s a move for you,
and that’s all you have to do.
So gather near;
your numeral you will hear.
Then you can dance with me.

Can you wiggle numeral one?
It’s time to have some fun.
Can you tap numeral two?
You know what to do.
You can dance with me.

Can you twist numeral three?
As twisty as can be.

Can you float numeral four?
Can you soar across the floor?
Can you spin numeral five?
Let’s all do a little jive.
Can you slide numeral six?
Show us all your little tricks.
Come and dance with me.

Can you snap numeral seven?
Let’s keep the party revvin’.
Can you shake numeral eight?
You’re lookin’ really great.
Can you shimmy numeral nine?
You’re lookin’ mighty fine.

The numeral dance is fun,
but now it time to run.
So let’s move once more;
spin and slide across the floor.
Let’s all shimmy. Let’s all soar.
Let’s all wiggle. Let’s all shake.
Let’s all snap. Let’s all tap
Now let’s take a break! Whew!

Make a set of numeral cards using numerals cut from sandpaper. Encourage the children to trace the numerals with their fingers.
Challenge pairs of children to shape their bodies to create an assigned numeral.

Literature: One, Two, Three to the Zoo, By Eric Carle
Activities for Celebrating “America Through Song” by Elaine Murphy

These activities are excerpts from the guide written by Dr. Kathryn A. Short, for Kimbo’snew CD release: “Songs About America,” Celebrating America Through Song.

Blow Ye Winds – a sea chantey about whaling ships and clipper ships from the late 1700’s into the 1800’s.

Show children pictures of whaling and clipper ships.

Gather children around the perimeter of a parachute, instructing them to hold onto the edge. Have children walk around in a circle while singing the lyrics (if you do not have the recording, this can still be good, imaginative play set to any music.) On the chorus (or on cue), stop and face the center while gently shaking the parachute up and down to symbolize the blowing wind on the water.

Paddle Wheeler – Students recognize that there are various kinds of transportation used in different time periods. In this case, the song is about a paddle wheeler that was used to ply the Mississippi back in the early 1900’s.

Show a picture of a paddle wheeler, perhaps the most famous of all, The Delta Queen!

Using a map, locate the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and follow the path of the Mississippi.
Erie Canal – Boats traveled the Erie Canal in New York State, beginning in 1825. This marvel of engineering and human labor opened up the American frontier and made westward expansion inevitable. The song was written in 1913 as a protest to the coming of the mechanized barge, which would replace the mule.

This familiar, old favorite song, can be acted out. Have children divide into two groups to simulate the canal, and face each other. Another group become the barges, and travel through. On the chorus, “Low bridge, everybody down,” the canal partners join hands to form a bridge, so the “barges” have to duck down to travel through.

Wabash Cannonball – The first Wabash Cannonball was a mythological train, dreamed up by a hobo in the 1880’s. The song about this imaginary train became so popular that the Wabash system in the Midwest named its express run the Wabash Cannonball. It ran between Detroit and St. Louis.

Everyone can sing the song while the children line up to simulate a train. The first child can wear an engineer’s cap, and the teacher can blow a train whistle for sound effects. Pretend to go to some of the places mentioned in the song, e.g., Atlantic and Pacific oceans, New York, St. Louis, Minnesota, and Chicago, woodlands and more.

About Kimbo

For information on purchasing this very special recording, “Songs About America,” Celebrating America Through Song, please call Kimbo Educational, 800-631-2187.

Several of the songs on this recording have a transportation theme, providing a unique way of reflecting America’s history. Children will also learn about geography from the lyrics and the activities.

Visit to discover the other fine products available through Kimbo Educational.

For more lesson planning ideas

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Savoring the Second Half of Summer

It seems like, for many people, summer and other vacations speed by so quickly that we can hardly remember where the time went.  If that is the case for you– or even if you have started to get a bit of the mid-summer doldrums, and run out of fun and educational ideas– this is a great time to refocus and come up with a few more ways to make the most of the rest of the summer.

Free game and practice worksheets

Fun, free worksheets like these can be a great thing to take along on a driving trip, a lazy day at the beach, or just for a quiet hour under the trees in the backyard.

And here are some great ESL worksheets, too!


Free video lessons

When it’s just too hot to go out and play, and kids are restless, remember that your computer can connect you with a wide variety of free and fresh educational opportunities.  Here are a few links to get you started.

Cool food for hot weather

When the summer sun starts to take its toll on everyone’s energy and patience, check out some quick and easy recipes which don’t require you heating up the kitchen by firing up the stove or oven.  Many are both kid-pleasing and kid-friendly to assemble, so you can share the kitchen duties to speed up and/or socialize the process and make meals truly a family affair.

Try these great recipes for children to help prepare–  Summer Fruit, Cheese and Meat Kabobs from Dianne at Conceptual Learning and Watermelon Blueberry Banana Split from the late Kathy O’Reilly’s “Cooking With Children Can Be Easy”.


Here are a variety of other listings of hot weather meals your family might enjoy. Some are also useful for short-term power outages and other disaster situations, when you might go oven-free by necessity, rather than by choice.  Perhaps you could also discuss these scenarios with your students as you plan and prepare the recipes.


Farmers’ Markets

Many of the tastiest no-cook or quick-to-cook summer recipes involve enjoying the bounty of local summer fruits and vegetables in a fairly natural state. This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage our children (and whole families) to both eat healthily and learn or remember where these delicious foods come from. 

In summer, even a trip to the supermarket is usually a feast for the eyes, but perhaps you and your students would enjoy a visit to a local farmers’ market. 

There is something extra-enticing about produce that hasn’t traveled hundreds of miles or been sitting in cold storage for months (though we love those fruits and vegetables, too.) Small farmers are able to grow more-perishable and often more-unusual varieties than big commercial farmers do, so the variety of colors, shapes and sizes of fruits and vegetables can be nearly amazing.  Since the produce is often fresher and riper, it also tends to have a richer aroma, which is certainly an important element of both the anticipation and enjoyment of good food. 

Since many small farmers often consider education a part of their business, they are often a font of interesting information about the origin, history, and growth habits of the produce they sell.  What a delicious way to blend lessons in both nutrition and botanical science!

If you’re not familiar with any local markets in your area, these search engines might help you find one.  If there are none nearby, a drive to one in a neighboring area could be a fun family outing. Just remember to bring an ice chest to protect your enticing purchases from heat and damage on the ride home.


Find out more about fish

If your favorite summer adventures include a visit to the ocean, a lake or pond, or a river or stream, you may see some fish while you are recreating.  Why not bone-up on your fish facts before you go?  The following sites give lots of good information, as well as lesson ideas.

For more fish lessons, plus many more fun outdoor activities, check out the National Wildlife Federation’s “Connect Kids and Nature” pages.

Here are some cute books about fish. Look for more at your local library.


Want to get creative? Check out these neat fish art ideas.


If you like to get outdoors (and sometimes get wet), you might enjoy sport fishing.  It is a sport which allows children to practice both hand-eye coordination and patience.  It can also allow adults and children to enjoy some leisurely quiet conversation, as well as lots of excitement if and when the fish are biting.

It’s late in the summer for some of the organized free-fishing programs around the United States (many are held in June or near Independence Day). However, there is still a lot of interesting fishing information available from public parks, state and local fish and wildlife or natural resource organizations, and private associations like those below.  Check with your own local recreational agencies for more specific information and advice about your nearby opportunities.

Since we aren’t naturally equipped like fish, anytime you’re around water, it’s important to be very careful.  Here are some good tips for staying safe in and around the water.


Understanding wildfires and wildfire safety

Many children in rural areas grow up with fire safety practices and fire season preparations an integral part of their normal lives.  However, in years like this year and last, when devastating wildfires have been big news all across North America, children from all areas are more likely to be aware of wildland fire dangers.

Although we try our best to protect especially our young children from subjects that will cause them sadness or fear beyond their maturity level, some such events will affect children despite our best efforts.  In that case, sometimes information and a plan of action can provide important comfort and perspective to help children cope.

The Smokey Bear site offers information, games, and safety tips. It even has a map of active fires around the U.S., which might be interesting to older students.  Understanding your own local wildfire risks, and including children in fire safety practices in age-appropriate ways, can help them focus their energies into something positive and pro-active. 

You will also find a lot of good information at the educational links on this page.

For young children who are distressed by the apparent devastation of wildfire, you might help them find comfort and perspective through a book like,Fire! By Celia Godkin, (or for older pre-teen students,  Fire: Friend or Foe by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, both available from Childsake and other booksellers.) These books explain the important beneficial effects of wildland fires, of which many people are not aware.

You might also consider making a visit to your local fire station.  Most fire departments welcome young visitors; and a face-to-face visit with firefighters can be both educational and comforting.  Children can learn more about fire safety (at home and in wild areas), see the safety equipment and apparatus that help fire personnel do their job safely, and even thank them for the important job that they do.  Call ahead to your local station to see if they have any specific rules about visitations.

For more wildfire information and photos, check out these interesting sites, as well.


Museums and other tours

If you haven’t taken advantage of summer leisure and weather to visit a museum, historical site, or other nearby educational site, you still have time. It is amazing how much interesting perspective and knowledge a child can gain from an outing of just a few hours.  It may become a favorite family memory, as well.  Another potential benefit is that indoor sites like museums are usually air conditioned, so they could be a pleasant place to linger on a hot summer day.

If you cannot travel and/or you do not live in a big city, you can still probably find somewhere interesting to tour. Even small towns often have at least one small historical society or art museum.  Older towns may have a district of historic buildings and/or homes you could enjoy on a walking tour.  Local parks sometimes are built on historic sites, endowed by famous local residents, or have some other interesting story behind them.  So, if, like many of us this year, you are having a “stay-cation”, don’t forget to look “in your own backyard” for interesting and educational local opportunities you might have missed.

Rae from The Creative Process has compiled some interesting links which may provide ideas or additional enrichment.

* * * * * *

Last, if you haven’t read Summer Fun Makes for Summer Memories, our round-up of summer reminiscences and fun ideas from the American Montessori Consulting Resource Partners, don’t miss it.

There is plenty of summer enjoyment and enrichment left to savor, so get out and make the most of it!  Be safe and have fun!

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Montessori Summer Gardening Unit Study

Below, are links for a complete summer gardening unit study. These PreK and K-8 links will lead you to articles, hands-on activities and other exercises that are compatible with the Montessori classified reading cards, phonics, grammar, creative writing, science, social studies and other extensive lesson plans found in Montessori books.

This unit study was brought to you by Heidi Spietz. To learn more about Heidi, click here.

Montessori Classified Reading Cards and Other Aids to Learn About Summer and Year Round Gardening

Make Your Own Classified Reading Cards for PreK – Grade 5
Nurturing Budding Botanists – Learning and Teaching the Basics
of Plant Science

Names of Flowers in English, French and Latin
Names of Vegetables in Spanish with Pronunciation Key
Names of Fruits in Spanish – Spanish Vocabulary
Names of Fruits in Spanish – with Pronunciation Key
Free Flash Cards – Vegetables – English
Free Flash Cards – Vegetables – English
Free Flash Cards – Vegetables – French
Fruits and Vegetables – Frutas y Verduras
Vegetable Names in European Languages
Names of Flowers in English, French and Latin
Mature Flower Diagram Clip Art
Plant Cell Wall Diagram Clip Art
Summer Flowers – Names and Facts
Northwest Coloring Book Scientific Plant Name Index
Let’s Study About the Cycle of a Flowering Plants and Trees
– Extension of Montessori’s Classified Reading Cards for Elementary Students

Plant Identification by Characteristics (Reference Guide)
The Garden Game


Sensory Exercises/Motor Development Involving the Study of Summer Gardening

Sunflower Seed Activities (Pre K – Grade 6)
Seed Match
Collecting Seeds – Fun for the Whole Family
Learning Center Grdening Table for the Classroom
A Close-Up Look at Seeds
Backyard Detective
Sensory Table (Sunflower Seeds)

Practical Life Exercises Involving the Study of Summer Gardening

Summer Flower Bulbs
Itching to Plant (Germinating Seeds)
What Shall I Grow?
Home-grown “Fast Food” for Busy Families by Sara L. Ambarian
Gardening Year Round – Tips from an Expert
Learn What Mulch Can Do For You!
International Gardening Information – Scroll Down Half Way through Newsletter
A Child’s Garden
Grow It Cook It
Planting a Gardem – Lower Elementary Ages
Garden Planters and Containers
Preparing a Container Garden
Gardening Tools
Homegrown Vegetables in Any Space
Complete Gardening Archive
Organic Garden Seeds
Wildflower Seed Planting Instructions – Wildflower How-to-Guide

Language Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Students

My Vegetable Gardening Diary
Special Summer Food Fun – Word Puzzles for Middle Schoolers
The Secret Garden
Garden Tales
Montessori Gardening Grammar Bingo
Growing Poems
Experience of Nature (Flora: Plants & Flowers) PreK – Grade 2
Recommended Children’s Poetry Books (Ages 4 – 8)
Recommended Children’s Poetry Books (Ages 9 – 13)
Figurative Speech: Analogies, Similes, and Metaphors

Science and Social Science Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Students

Growing Plants Unit Study – Upper Elementary Level
Vegetable Planting Guide Worksheet
Blue Potatoes, Orange Tomatoes (Grades 2 – 6)
Comparing Leaves
Growing Plants Unit
Science With Plants
Cultivating Hope
Microscopes for Observation and Science Experiments
The Garden Game
Cultivating History Lessons Gardens for Schools
Planting a Gardem Thematic Unit Study – Lower Elementary Ages
Vegetable Guide to Planting in Late Summer
Seeds to Plant in Late Summer/Fall
Farmers’ Almanc Gardening Calendar
Plant a Summer Crop of Beans
Curriculum Connections
The Science of Gardening
Harvest of History – The Farmers’ Museum
Aromatic History
– Herbs in Colonial Life
Hands On Flower Model

Music and Art Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Students

Let’s Make Pressed Flowers – Elementary Level
Draw Your World – Drawing Enriches the Curriculum
Flower Themes, Flowers in Art
Sharing Food, Food in Art
Changing a Flower’s Color
Seed Collages (Scroll down until you see this activity)
Painting a Garden (Scroll down until you see this activity
Flowers Posters, Prints, Charts, Photographs & Calendars
Garden-Inspired Performing Arts
Sing and Learn About Science

Math Lesson Planning for Elementary and Middle Students

It’s Juice! Reading and Interpreting Graphs
Exploring Math in the Garden
Sprouting Math Activities – Algebra
Sprouting Math Activities – Problem Solving
Flowers: Graph & Graph Again
Inside hte Coordinate Grid

Business Marketing Activities

Plant Sale Grows Kids
Peddling Plants
Cultivating Funds with Indoor Plants
Fungi Fever

Additional Extension Exercises – Let’s Write, Discuss and Talk About Gardening

Granny’s Garden School
More Fruits and Vegetables
How To Pick Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Season
Farmer’s How to Pick Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Spanish
Farmer’s Market Fruit and Vegetable Bargains
Curriculum Connections – Incorporate Selected Ideas for Montessori Environment
Write Your Own Books – For K – 3rd Grade(Part I)
Write Your Own Books – For K – 3rd Grade (Part II)

Visit American Montessori Consulting and look under New and Notable for other unit studies. Copyright 2007 – 2013 Heidi Spietz – American Montessori Consulting


Heidi Anne Spietz

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Summer Reading Round-Up

With summer holidays and trips ahead, now is a perfect time to start exploring your students’ recreational reading options.  We have put together a variety of ideas to help get you and your students excited about literature both for free reading and for reading aloud as a family or class group. From pre-readers to teenagers, we have recommendations for every age group, and from many genres.

We surveyed the American Montessori Consulting Resource Center partners for their favorite titles for families and young readers.  You can find a listing of the results in “Children’s Books for Summer Reading, Part One– Resource partner picks” at

We also put the word out to students, parents, grandparents, teachers and others who value reading.  The favorites of this diverse group, from 7 years old to 80 years old, are listed in “Children’s Books for Summer Reading, Part Two– Community recommendations”.

Rita from shares both book suggestions and lesson ideas in the following three articles, “Howls With Owls”, “And the Winner Is…”, and “Start With the Winners”. Her recommendations focus on award winners and classic literature.

If you are longing for a taste of the Great Outdoors, you may enjoy the 19th and 20th century titles recommended by Sara L. Ambarian in “Classic Nature and Outdoor Adventure Fiction for Kids and Families.” This listing spans from very simple read-alouds to teen-appropriate fiction.

The Lord Company offers free downloadable books in their Simple Steps Reading Series. These parable-based early reading stories are printed in single pages, which the student can help to download, bind and decorate.  This makes the book not just a tool for lessons, but a potential keepsake; and their participation in creating the book is a good daily life exercise, as well.

Are you still looking for more reading resources? 

This list includes some great books you may not have thought about in quite a while.

The search features at can help you locate your local branch library –or perhaps a library near a vacation destination–  so you can be sure not to run out of reading materials!

* * * *

For those of you who are tech-oriented, there is another library service gaining popularity across the country—downloading free electronic books from your local library.  Some busy readers find it useful to have a single book available to read on their home computer, iPod and other electronic devices as time and inclination allow.  If this sounds like something which might interest you, here is some additional information to get you started. posted an article and poll data comparing electronic books with print books on their blog on April 17, 2012.

This is a very interesting article about the advantages and disadvantages of borrowing e-books from the library.

Here’s another short how-to article/video about downloading e-books from your public library.

This site is a good example of a big city library system’s e-books offerings.  Your library’s offerings may vary.

This seems to be the main search engine for libraries with e-book services. You may find yours here, too.

Happy reading!

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The Thrill of Making and Flying Your Own Kites

One day, in June 2007, I took a stroll down Main Street in Seal Beach, California. After spending a relaxing day there, I decided to devote an article to helping you get the most out of your Seal Beach vacation experience. Yes, if you are planning to take a vacation to Southern California this summer, The Art and Science of Kite Flying article, is a “must” read. Museums, art galleries, kite flying, hobby stores, eateries, and more are just a few of the things that await you in a town that has managed to keep its quaintness intact.

Please click here for 2010 information.

Enjoy 🙂

Visit today!

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