Monday, October 15, 2012

Bears, Bears, Bears!

Little Miss turned three in June, so this Fall I decided to try to do a bit or "formal" school work with her every day. She's been asking for school work, so I guess it is time.

I decided to start with a theme: Bears (I first want to admit that I have a bit of a problem with collecting books and school related materials. I have an insane amount of manipulatives, flannel board pieces and other assorted necessities. In my own defense, a lot of this was collected during my days of classroom teaching.) So I pulled out everything "bear" that I could find and we proceeded to "play school".

Nomenclature cards 

I started with good old Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? I downloaded a really cute Brown Bear, Brown Bear early learning pack from 1+1+1=1 I laminated the things that I knew we would work with multiple times.  On the right are some of the Nomenclature cards from the pack that go with the story. You can find more Nomenclature printables on the Montessori Printables page on 1+1+1=1.

Little Miss playing with the Brown Bear, Brown Bear Nomenclature cards.
Here she is enjoying some of the activities from the early learning pack.

Putting together some puzzle cards.
What would a bears unit be without a bunch of bear counters! There are so many things you can do with these little guys: counting, patterns, sorting, colors, matching. I think the bears were a good investment because I know we can use them for several years. Right now we can practice counting, colors, and sorting. Later we can do addition and subtraction, more complex patterns, even multiplication and division.

Colored Bear Counters and sorting bowls
I start by giving her lots of time to just play and explore with the materials. She had several chances to play with the bears and the bowls before I started to suggests activities with them. Sometimes I would suggest things, other times I would play along side her and model something I wanted her to try, like putting the bears into the bowls according to their color.

Patterns with bears.

One day I pulled out these pattern strips and started matching bears to the pattern, and saying my pattern out loud, "red-yellow-red-yellow..." She did not seem to be paying much attention to me and was placing her own bears on cards without matching the colors. Suddenly she looked down at her card and noticed that a green bear was on a yellow square. "That one doesn't go here!" she said. She took the green bear off and replaced it with a yellow one.

We also have a color bear bingo set hat you can use the bears with. It comes with these little paw markers. Little Miss really liked to match a bear to each colored paw.

Bear to paw color matching.

When we finished playing the bears were usually all over the room. Little Miss really likes to throw things. She is learning not to, but we are still working on it. While she is often a good helper at clean up time, when she is feeling reluctant going on a "bear rescue" will often get her into action.

 A bears unit is not complete without reading a few different versions of The Three Bears.
The Three Bears flannel board.
After reading the story we got out the Three Bears flannel board story. We had fun retelling the story (along with using all of the different voices for the different bears). She liked to match up the bears with their correct chairs. Sometimes she did not want me to tell the story and just wanted to play with the characters.

Another bear activity I got out was the dress up bear puzzle. She loves to make all of the different bears. Her favorite part is the faces, each with a different expression. She likes to talk about the sad bear, the happy bear, and the angry bear.

Finally, there was the workbook. Just kidding! No workbooks as I think in general they are far less educational than learning through exploration and play. Another problem is that there is usually only one right way to do a workbook page. I'd like to put that off as long as possible. At three years old we are building a foundation for future learning, and so far we are having fun doing it!

Tot Books & Packs

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