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Exploring Podcasts

I'm so excited about my new creation... Exploring Podcasts. I have been tweaking it for the last couple of months to get it just right.

I have always wanted a place where my children could keep a list of their favorite podcasts and all the great information that they learned from the podcasts. Now they are actually able to SEE all the knowledge they have gained  --all on their own. It is such a confidence builder and creates life-long learners.

No more "I'm bored!" These journals promote a growth mindset for kids and give them choices in their learning path. See the sparkle in their eyes and their excitement as they tell you what all they have learned with their choice of podcasts! 

This is self-directed work at its finest! 

It is also an activity that requires little setup from YOU!

I have a video below that previews all the pages included in the digital download. The pages provide a place for children to record their favorite podcasts after brainstorming things that interest them, includes a podcast tracker list so they can track which podcasts they have started and finished, podcast listening sheets where children can write down the information that they have learned from the podcast, record new vocabulary words, rate the podcast, provide a justification for their rating (builds strong critical thinking skills), and extra note pages.

You can get a copy for your child or students Podcast Journals-Insightful Brain
Use code BUILDINGLEADERS and get 20% off.

What's New with Nouns

Little Angel is a having such a good time identifying nouns, I am having a difficult time coming up with new ideas to practice our skill. We have "gone on a Noun Picnic", we have traveled on a noun scavenger hunt, practiced with our noun cards, written sentences with chosen nouns, found nouns in our storybooks, etc.

Today, she looks up at me and says "What's new with nouns today?" She has been having so much fun, I tried not to disappoint. So, in my attempt to find a new and different practice, that was also self-correcting, I created a couple of puzzle sheets in which she had to identify nouns.
The first one was a "beginner" crossword puzzle. She hasn't actually completed crossword puzzles before, but has seen her older brother and sister having fun with them. I tried to create the puzzle sheet so she will learn what "across" and "down" mean on a crossword puzzle sheet without getting confused with them all being mixed together for her first few attempts.

First, she draws a triangle over each noun as she reads the sentences.

Next, she fills the "crossword" puzzle in with the nouns she found from the sentences. Big sister is looking on, asking for her own noun puzzle.

Here is my crossword creation: 

Pic to the left is the completed puzzle sheet. Pic to the right is the control.

I have written sentences at the bottom of the sheet labeled "across" and "down." She reads each sentence (which gives her extra reading practice) and draws a triangle over each noun. Then, she finds the "1 Across" and then writes the noun from that sentence in the respective box, and so on. She checked her work with the control sheet.

The second puzzle sheet was a mini word find. Once again, Little Angel draws a triangle over each noun in the sentences and then finds the nouns in the word searches. She checks her answers with the control sheet.

I updated the sheets a bit and you can get YOUR copy here....

Red Level Noun Crossword Puzzles
Updated: Red Level Noun Crossword Puzzles

She had so much fun that her brother and sister are jealous and are asking for some too!

You can find the noun puzzles below:

--- For Pink Level click here (Pink level uses only 2-3 letter phonetic words)

Audio Books

Times have been a little tight the last few years and we try and save money any way we can. I can pass up the coffees, the fast food, the shoes, and new clothes. What I have a hard time passing by is books. I absolutely love books. I love bookstores. I love reading books. I love buying books. My husband shares my book passion so much that on our honeymoon, we stopped by every bookstore we passed that week.

I want to pass this passion for books and reading onto our children. When I was a child, I loved pulling out my little blue record player off the shelf of our spare bedroom and opening up my storybook record sets. I listened to them for hours. As I browsed our local bookstore, I fondly remembered those times and set out to find the audio book sets. The lowest audio book set price I found was $9.99. With three children, that is impossible. That's when I discovered it was more economical to purchase mp3 players on sale (they don't need high GB storage for their audio books and those run pretty cheap these dates--- especially on sale days) and record my own mp3 files and create my own audio books. I know mp3 players are old-school, but I love them because they don't have all the razzle-dazzle of tablets with screens, etc. so I don't have to limit the use the of mp3 players as much as their tablet time. 

I download some files from our library website. We have a link on ours called READS. You enter your library card number and can download the audio books for a "checkout" period. This is usually a couple of weeks. Check your local library and see if you have this option. It usually has you to download a software audio player to your mp3 and you can listen to the audio books for 2 weeks. Make sure your mp3 is compatible. Some mp3s only take certain formats.

I have also recorded some of my children's books onto their mp3 players. They love it when I do this. In fact, my daughter, who has a bit of separation anxiety, was pleasantly surprised when I read an entire Junie B. Jones book and recorded it on her mp3 for her sleepover at Grandma's. I read to them every night, so this gave her a bit of normalcy to take with her.

There are also many websites that offer audio books for free. Here is a short list of just a few: 
  • StoryNory: Variety of story types for kids including classics such as Rumplestiltskin, Three Little Pigs, stories from around the world, and original stories.
  • LibriVox : Searchable database of children's classic tales - contains mp3 files and ebook downloads.
    Titles include works such as
    Alice in Wonderland, My Life and Work by Henry Ford, Aesop's Fables,
    Little Women, Real Mother Goose,  Wizard of Oz, Frog Prince, and more
  • Robert Munsch: Listen to Robert Munsch narrate book selections such as Love You Forever,Class Clown, and Up, Up, Down.

Finding these resources has really saved us a lot of money over the past few years, and will save us even more in the years to come!

Practice Reading Skills While Learning New Concepts


Children absorb so much information during their early years. Many times, you can easily teach and reinforce more than one concept at the same time. 

Three year-olds can easily grasp the concept of singular and plural when it is approached in the correct manner. You don't have to buy fancy manipulatives either!

Example using household items:

Gather several of the exact same object. Try to ensure there is no difference in the objects. For instance, 11 red buttons that are exactly the same, 14 pencils that are exactly the same, 15 orange skittles, etc.

  • Place 1 of the items on the workspace in front of the child and announce "singular".
  • Have the child repeat.
  • Remove the item from the workspace and place several of the objects in front of the child and say "plural" and have the child repeat.
  • Repeat this 2-3 times.
  • Now, place 1 item on the workspace, then place a group of objects spaced away from the 1 object. Point to the 1 item and state "singular' and have the child repeat. Then, point at the 
    group of the objects and state "plural" and have the child repeat.
  • Repeat this 2-3 times.

To extend the lesson:

You can make a "singular/plural" lesson with items such as cheerios, buttons, etc. around your house and create a label that says "singular" and "plural" and show your child how to label the singular and plural group.

If you have a beginning reader, you might be interested in the following singular and plural activity cards that reinforce early reading skills while learning the concept of singular and plural words. 

There is no need to wait until a child reads at a more advanced level to teach this skill when they can learn it at this period in time where their mind absorbs information at such a fast rate.

To teach this lesson, show your child how to place the singular and plural heading cards on their workspace. 

Then, pull the cards out and shuffle them up and place them on the workspace. 

The first set uses picture cards so the child can visually understand the concept of singular and plural.

montessori singular and plural activity, montessori language, montessori language activity,

The next three sets, expands on this concept by using words that have the C-V-C pattern for beginning readers.

montessori singular and plural activity, montessori language, montessori language activity,

This activity is a wonderful extension for your beginning reader!!!

Another Use for Command Cards!

I love command cards (and problem cards). They are a wonderful way for a child to think about the knowledge they have learned or practice a skill. 

But, what do you do with them after the child gets weary of that work and is ready to move onto something different?

I put particular sets of cards up for a couple of weeks, then I pull them back out one at a time to serve as a review of the subject matter to keep it fresh in their brains.

Here is how I do it......

I place a card in a placecard holder and put it in a spot for a "daily morning review". My children have small notebooks where they record the answer to the command/problem cards each day.
They LOVE writing in their little notebooks!

If you "like" Montessori for Learning on Facebook,  you can access my Beginning Word Problem Card Set for FREE! (Click here!)

Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! We have been having a sweltering heat wave, so ours was toasty! My husband had to work, so it was up to me and the kiddos to celebrate the 4th together. It was a little more difficult this year due to the heat. Many activities were cancelled. The one community picnic that we found last year was quite smaller this year (also due to the heat). We played 3 of the 5 games they had available and decided to go have lunch together. 

While sitting at lunch at McDonald's (I know the horrible place that has dangerous food- but my philosophy is that we all know it is bad for you, so don't eat there often and make it a treat once every month or two) and keeping watch over the happy meal toys while the kiddos took turns in the restrooms, I thought, "this is pretty skimpy" - I have to do more to make this a memorable day for all of us (we are also under a fireworks ban so we really didn't have anything else "fun" planned for tonight).

I browsed the web for some interesting science experiments. It seemed suitable that I search for "exploding" experiments since it was the 4th. I found a  few rocket-making sites and an "exploding colors" video. I have actually done these experiments with my Montessori class when I taught at the Montessori school, but my brain seems to draw a blank for ideas when I am out and about for some reason. These sites are the ones I bookmarked to use: (awesome for surface tension!)

I also thought that it would not be suitable to just go out and play without once again remembering why we celebrate the Fourth of July. I want my children to respect the people of the past and to appreciate what they gave up for us.So, I decided to run to the bookstore (always one of our favorite places) and I found these 2 wonderful books:

We took them home (after I purchased them of course!), read them, discussed them and I answered as many questions as I could. 

Then, after dinner, it was time for some exploding fun! Our surface tension experiment went off without a hitch... we poured our milk, added our food coloring (red and blue of course!) and then added our drop of food coloring to a toothpick and WAAAALAAA..... the kiddos thought I was so brilliant to be able to do this! Then I explained surface tension and then I got bumped down to pretty smart....

I'm afraid I do not have pictures of us actually setting off our bottle rockets, just the initial photo of our materials. Since it was exploding, I was the main one "setting it off" so there was no one left to snap the photos.

It took a few tries to get the baking soda and vinegar mixture just right, it wasn't perfect by any means - but I do think we created some fun memories!

Story Cubes

I love summertime. I love the extra flexible time to spend with the kiddos. We take extra trips to different parks, play in the sprinkler, and take time to catch the early "kidsfest" movies once a week at a discounted price. They are older movies that are out on DVD, but we like to go eat some popcorn and have the theater experience.

Although it is a more relaxed time of the year, I still like to do things that keep our brains active. One of my favorites is playing Story Cubes.

It is a game where you roll a set of dice and you create an original story with the pictures that are displayed on the dice. You could make a cheap version by cutting pictures out of the newspaper or magazine, or even writing words on a slip of paper and draw a few out of a bag and create a story with those words.

I like this one because it was easy and it does have pictures if you have a non-reader, or beginning reader. It includes all age groups. I also liked it because it was only about $7 at our local bookstore and I had a coupon and a gift card for that store :). That means it was a brain-game ready-to-go ----- no preparation necessary!

We have had some pretty interesting stories and great laughs so far with this game. It is small and very portable so you can take it with you to doctor's appointments or anywhere you are going to have a wait. It is so much better than having the kiddos on electronic games and is a real bonding experience for the family. 

Do you have any favorite family games that you like playing in the summer to keep the brains active?