Montessori Inspired Joint Activity Time

Lady Bug has been interested in Wild/African/Safari/Zoo animals lately so I decided to capitalize on her interest and have begun a morning time when we try to do an activity together while the boys do their vocabulary and math on the computer. A year ago a joint activity that was decided by anyone other than Lady Bug would have been a non starter. But now, with the help of her interest, I’m getting 10-15 minutes at a time!

Right now I’m using these activities as joint activity practice, spread out once a day. But they can be done with a younger child who’s interested in learning but isn’t up to a lot of fine motor things, or put several together for a day of zoo fun.

Because I’m hoping to eventually homeschool Lady Bug in a modified Montessori way, I start our joint activity time with the calendar board I got from Amazon. It has the date, season, time, weather, time of day, all adjustable and durable wood. I have it up on the wall held by Command Hooks. Lady Bug didn’t seem that interested in it at first, but she has gone from completely ignoring it to saying the numbers on the board and watching me change the date and the time. Which is awesome.

After a minute on the calendar I read a poem two times that I found here. Lady Bug loves the poem and the arm motions (different than suggested on the poem) to go along with them. At first she just smiled and watched me be silly with the movements I chose. After two weeks she started scripting some of the lines, and she mirrors some of the motions as I do them now.

After we’ve done those two things we try one new activity. You can do them in any order you want. Here’s a list of the things we either have done or plan to do:

  • Safari Sensory Tub: there are plenty of materials you could use for this. I used grass clippings taken while they were fresh and kept in the tub. Lady Bug is a sensory seeker, so she liked it. In the dried grass we used various plastic animals, including the Toob Wild animals my sister got Lady Bug for her birthday.
  • Large, Laminated Animal Cards: I printed them from The Elliott Edition blog. They are beautiful cards and there are a lot of them (and free!) I only printed the animals that Lady Bug has toy versions of.
  • Matching Toy Animals to 3 Part Cards: I got the 3 part cards from Welcome to Mommyhood blog and they are beautiful and free. I laminated them of course. Lady Bug was much more interested in stimming with the cards than matching the toy animals to them, but we’ll try again in a week or so.
  • Making Animal Prints in Playdough: I found this idea on the Modern Parents Messy Kids blog. I made some homemade dough from To the Moon and Back and refrigerated it. Lady Bug loved the cool dough, and kept saying, “Cold! Cold!” I wasn’t sure how much of the foot print making she understood or was interested in, as she didn’t really try to do what I demonstrated. But eventually she climbed on on the table and started making her own footprints in it, so maybe she did!
  • Sort Mixed-Up Zebras and Elephants: I used a cut and sort activity from Teachers Pay Teachers (it was free) a bit differently than suggested on the description. I laminated the page, cut them out myself, and tried to get her to sort the zebras to one side and the elephants to another. She did watch me do it several times, but did not try herself, preferring to pick up two of the same animal cards and stimming with them. We’ll try again some other time.
  • Read a book: I used the simple reader from Twisty Noodle to practice sitting together and reading a book. I printed it out, colored it myself, and “bound” it like a book with tape and construction paper (couldn’t find the stapler) with a title on the front and a “The End” at the back because she likes saying that.
  • Identify the shadow of known animals: I used the free PDF from a non-English site (scroll a little down and you’ll find the picture and the PDF link to print it.)
  • Match toy animal to up close picture of the animal’s skin/fur: I got this idea from Pinterest, but everything I could find you had to pay for. I ended up just searching a few out on Google and DIY’ing it. Since then I’ve found Yusuke Sakai Photography which has some beautiful up close pictures.
  • Tiger Sticky Stripes Craft: I found this idea at Toddler Approved blog and it looks awesome! Lady Bug enjoyed exploring the sticky part.
  • Elephant Finger-Play Rhyme with Printable Finger Puppets: found this one at The Measured Mom blog.
  • Matching Animal Halves: found at Totschooling. I’m putting this one off a while because I doubt Lady Bug will be interested in it, but other kids might so I’m including it.
  • Matching Animal Halves on Duplos: This fun idea came from Learn Play Imagine. Unfortunately they did not include the pictures they used. After some searching on my part, the best I could come up with was finding a full page of “African Animals” pictures and using those.
  • Animal Tracks Cards: I noticed Lady Bug likes flipping her larger animal toys and looking at their paw prints. Some of the higher quality ones even have distinct prints. So I printed/laminated/cut out the animal tracks puzzles, only instead of using them as puzzle pieces I kept them together and folded them in half and glued the edge before laminating them. This way she can flip over the card and see the animal on one side and the print on the other.
  • Paper Plate Lion Mask: Planning to do this one soon. Lady Bug found my practice cut out plate and put it up to her face just like I will want her to, so I’m optimistic.
  • Elephant Stomp on bubble wrap! I just need to find the bubble wrap….
  • Animal Track Stamps: Dang it, I was just at the Dollar Store and forgot to get sponges.

That should hopefully be enough to fill three weeks of activities; more if the interest holds and you redo some of them. For more ideas like this (as well as other ideas that Lady Bug is interested in) I have a Pinterest board for them. I’d love to hear how it goes if you try it with your kiddo!

My only hope/goal for the entire month was to establish a routine of doing this. The Saturday after week 2 of doing this, Lady Bug went over to the calendar by herself and started saying numbers! So we did calendar time. Then I was talking to husband that I needed to find the poem. She heard me and started trying to say lines from the poem! I’d say that counts as routine established!

I also decorated her learning area with zoo signs I printed off of Google and some old animal wall decals I had from when Early Bird was going through a similar phase.

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