Teaching your child about December Holidays

December Holidays Present Wonderful Teaching Opportunities for Your Child

The Montessori method focuses on your child’s needs and allows for him or her to explore their world and the environment around them. December is an important month where opportunities to share with those in their world are approached. Children in this school setting receive the wonderful gift of time all year long, and in December, this time is used to embrace the celebrations of sharing, caring, and giving practiced by various cultures throughout their world.

December Holidays

December is the perfect month for learning about new cultures. This month is often focused on remembering others, fulfilling wishes, and celebrating. Children can learn about various cultural observances throughout December and come to appreciate there are people of all religions and cultures who come together in worship to rejoice and to feast with those they love. There are the well-known holidays such as Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years and also lesser known holidays such as Bodhi Day, Dongzhi, and Yalda. Each celebration is important to those who recognize it, and your child will enjoy the experience of learning new traditions.

Well-Known Holidays

Hanukkah is the Jewish holiday, celebrating their devotion to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. There are activities, books and the creating of the traditional Menorah to explain to your child the importance of this celebration and help them understand the meaning behind lighting the Menorah and what it represents.

Christmas is perhaps the most notable celebration, but it also has different traditions for various cultures. In the Philippines, their celebration of Christmas goes through all the ‘ber’ months – October, November, and December. With colorful lights and Christmas music, the entire country prepares for the much awaited season in a different version of the one celebrated in the United States.

New Year’s Eve is also a common celebration which many of your friends and family partake in festivities. Your child can learn more about this holiday through the New Year’s Eve Advent Celebration. They see how the Good Shepherd practiced and taught his faith and can even share a meal together where the kids serve each other.

Lesser-Known Holidays

Though we don’t hear about these holidays as often, it doesn’t mean they aren’t as important. Your child can learn about Bodhi Day, which is the Buddhist Holiday celebrating the day Buddha experienced enlighten. There is also the Donghzi Festival celebrated by the Chinese and other Asian cultures during the winter solstice around December 22nd. Another lesser-known holiday is the Yalda Festival, which Iranians celebrate on the longest and darkest night of the year. These are all important festivities, relevant to each culture and ones your child will enjoy hearing and learning. Learning about other cultures and respecting other’s customs will help your child grown into a more well-rounded adult.

The Montessori School of Fremont teaches it student about diversity and different cultural celebrations throughout the year.  Just as the Montessori Method believes, students learn to embrace and celebrate each other as unique individuals.  Contact us today if you would like your child to experience the gift of receiving an education that places their needs and interests first.

Age-Appropriate Apps for your Preschooler

Getting your child used to technology early is a great way to help him or her succeed academically. A child who is used to using software, including mobile apps, will find trying new things less of a challenge. Apps like the ones summarized below can also make learning experiences more engaging, and your child will be more likely to look forward to school.

Alpha Tots

This app helps children learn their phonics and letters through the use of action verbs, such as “B for building”. Other features include an ABC’s-based sing-along song, mini-games with fun interactive features, and puzzles. One of the things you’ll appreciate is that the app works perfectly fine without ads or in-app purchases that could otherwise be a major distraction.

Reading Rainbow

This app features a lot of the appeal that has helped the show remain popular over the years. Some of the features include themed islands to explore, video field trips featuring host Lavar Burton, and easy access to hundreds of book titles. Helpful tools for parents include tips and the ability to track how much time your child spends reading.

Elmo Loves 123s

This Sesame Street favorite is perfect for teaching the youngest preschoolers how to count up to 20. Games and videos help provide even more of an interactive feel to get toddlers and young preschoolers fully engaged. Parents have a section where they can check their child’s progress very easily.

Animatch

Matching is an important skill for toddlers to learn, and using colorful animals is a good way to make things more interesting. Animal sounds and movements help keep kid’s attention throughout the game. With 30 different animals, kids will learn great memory and concentration skills easily.

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

This app offers a little bit of everything for preschoolers, including pattern recognition, counting, shapes, colors, and letters. Each activity follows a goal of filling the monkey character’s lunchbox. The child’s reward for completing the activity is a colorful sticker on a virtual bulletin board.

Preschool Arcade

This fun little app has four arcade-style games to entice preschoolers: Whack-a-Mole, Claw-Crane Matching, Pinball 123, and ABC Invasion. Some of the cognitive development features include counting and alphabet recognition. Kids will enjoy the sound effects and animation that mimic real arcade games.

All of these apps will help make learning a more exciting experience for your preschooler. He or she will have more have more of an advantage once they start school.  At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus, we understand how technology plays a vital role in today’s environment.  While we don’t believe in focusing solely on electronic devices, they do provide another educational opportunity for time spent outside of your school and especially when preparing your preschooler to begin school in the first place.  To schedule a meeting with our teachers and staff, contact us today!

Teaching your Child about Being Thankful through fall Crafts

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this is an excellent time to teach little ones the importance of giving thanks and being grateful for what they have in their lives.

Learning how to be grateful, for things both big and small, is a teachable skill that can last children a lifetime. All you need are some scissors, paper, glue and a little bit of creativity to make giving thanks fun for the whole family.

Here are some ideas for fall crafts you can do with your child that will remind them what Thanksgiving is really all about:

No. 1 – A Sharing Plate

The Sharing Plate is a fun project for kids of all ages. Find a blank plate and either paint or draw a poem about gratitude on it. The plate then travels from home to home with your friends and family – reminding everyone to be grateful for every day.

Here’s an example of a sharing plate poem:

“The sharing plate does not have a home, and its adventure never ends. But it never gets lonely because it travels around from friend to friend. The food upon it was made with love and care, so remember to pass this special plate along so everybody can share.”

No. 2 – The Tree of Gratitude

All you need for this craft is some fall-colored construction paper, scissors, and tape. Help your kids draw an outline of a tree, along with some leaves. Then cut the shapes out of the paper and tape it all together.

Then, hang the tree on your wall before having your child write down what they’re most thankful for on each leaf. As the days of fall continue to pass, remind your child to take a leaf off the tree each time they are feeling extra grateful for something and encourage them to share it with the family.

No. 3 – A Giving Thanks Quilt

A Giving Thanks Quilt can be a great annual tradition to hang on your wall and remember all of your fondest memories of the holidays.

But if you don’t have the time or resources to make a cloth quilt, you can make a paper quilt in a fraction of the time. And if you want it to last through the years, you could even get it laminated after it’s finished.

Either way, you’ll want to cut out your quilt pattern and then have your children write what they are thankful for on different squares. Have fun stitching it together as a family, all while teaching everybody the importance of gratitude and appreciation.

Practicing Gratitude

Whether it’s the big things or life’s little pleasures you are feeling grateful for, finding and creating holiday crafts as a family can be fun and educational at the same time. It’s also an excellent bonding opportunity that will give your children memories and lessons that last a lifetime.

At the Montessori School of Fremont, we teach our students about holidays in hands-on and interactive ways.  Showing gratitude during Thanksgiving is an excellent way to teach your children about being thankful and appreciative.  To see the Montessori Method in person, contact us today.

Preschoolers and the Lesson of Friendship

The preschool years are a perfect time for children to learn about the importance of friendship. Your child will form friendships that could last throughout their childhood and beyond at this time. Helping your child learn about the importance of friendships from such a young age will get them ready to make new friends at school.

Read Books About Friends With Your Child

Preschoolers can take away a lot of information from reading books, making reading a perfect activity to help explain the importance of friendship to your child. After reading these books, take some time for you and your child to discuss how their friends are like those they read about in the stories and how they’re different.

A few books that your child will enjoy include:

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister – A story of a fish with shiny scales who gives one away to a sad friend, then gives away more when he sees the happiness they bring. You’ll be able to introduce your child to the idea of giving to those less fortunate than they are.

Just My Friend and Me by Mercer Mayer – This Little Critter classic shows how the signature character learns it’s okay to play alone after a difficult playdate. Your child will learn a little more about coping with conflicts.

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni – When Blue and Yellow come together after being apart, they turn green and all accept them. This book is a cute lesson in tolerance.

Make Friendship Necklaces

A friendship necklace is a great activity for preschoolers, under adult supervision. In place of beads that could present a choking hazard, you can use pasta dyed to bright colors using a food coloring and vinegar mixture. Thread them on to pieces of string with a knot at one end, tying the ends off to close.

Host a Tea or Lunch

Enjoying a tea or a lunch together is a great way for kids to appreciate the value of friendship. They’ll learn how to share with each other, as well as some other basic manners that will help them when they reach school age. One of the fun things about this type of setting with preschoolers is that they will often play pretend, inviting their stuffed toys or even imaginary friends to the table.

The lesson of friendship is a very important one that your child will benefit from learning as early as possible. These engaging activities will help get your child excited about making new friends as they prepare to start school.  The teachers and staff at Montessori Children’s Center encourage students to be friends with all, embracing the differences that make each child unique and special.  Contact us today to schedule a visit of one of our preschool Montessori classes.

Creating Manipulatives for your Preschooler

Manipulatives are fun for preschoolers to play with, but more importantly, they teach kids a variety of skills, ranging from physical abilities such as fine motor skills, to mental development such as abstract thinking. Unfortunately many manipulatives, such as Magna Tiles and other fun toys for preschoolers, are prohibitively expensive if you’re sticking to a budget. Supplement store-bought manipulative sets with ones you make yourself, perhaps even with your child’s help!

  • Pom pom magnets: All you need is a fridge or another magnetic surface and a set of these colorful, fluffy magnets, and your preschooler can be entertained for hours! To make these inexpensive manipulatives, buy a bag of quarter-sized pom-poms and small magnets to hot glue onto them.
  • Clothespin alphabet: Write a different letter on each of 26 different clothespins, and make a complete set of manipulatives that’s great for teaching fine motor skills. These easy DIY manipulatives used to be a staple in every preschool classroom. Kids can line up the clothespins along the top of an easel, or you can string a clothesline across a wall in their craft corner or playroom.
  • Lacing beads and cards: Preschoolers love lacing just about anything! Luckily these are fairly inexpensive manipulatives to put together yourself. Lacing cards can be made at home with cardboard, scissors, and a hole punch. You can purchase large beads or use almost anything else instead, such as tube-shaped pasta. For laces, you can use old (but clean) shoelaces, ribbon with fray check on each end, or even just colorful yarn with a little tape over each end.
  • Puzzles: Anything can become a puzzle, from a photograph mounted on cardboard, to the back of a cereal box with a cool graphic on it. Just cut out pieces using straight lines, squiggly lines, or even in such a way so that you can work on fractions.
  • Duplo math: Looking for an easy way to introduce your child to math and fractions? Chalk markers can be used to write on duplo blocks, and then wiped off after math practice is over or when your child is ready for a new challenge. Start with whole numbers and encourage your preschooler to build a tower with the blocks in order, or put together two-digit numbers. As your child gets better at math, you can use different-sized duplos to introduce the concept of fractions by writing the corresponding fractions on the side.
  • Paper plate practice clock: You can easily use a paper plate, some cardboard for the hands, and a brad to hold it all together and make your own practice clock. Time’s up!

Don’t let the term “manipulatives” scare you away from making your own, as it’s basically just a fancy name for the toys you see in most preschool classrooms. If you are interested in seeing what a fully stocked math and manipulatives center looks like – and the rest of the classroom too, of course – call Montessori Childrens Center today to set up a tour of our Montessori school.  We enjoy having prospective parents and students visit our classrooms to see the hands-on Montessori method first hand.

Preschool Library Corners

Preschool classrooms may vary in their design and the program they follow, but one thing is consistent: They always have a library corner. But why do classroom libraries and book nooks work so well? Here are a few of the ways in which book corners promote literacy in the preschool classroom.

  • They make books always available. In the typical preschool classroom, the library corner or book nook is open during any free play or work session, putting books literally at children’s fingertips at any time. This makes books an integral part of the preschooler’s day, allowing them to explore at will and model good reading habits to other children.
  • They provide a comfortable, inviting space. Most book nooks have comfortable chairs, beanbags, and pillows where children get settle in comfortably. Some also have headphones with music and books on tape or CD. This makes the library corner very appealing to children, especially those who want to get away from the noise and bustle of the classroom for a little while.
  • They provide a source for information. Library corners also often include nonfiction books, where kids can go to learn or look up information. When the class is learning about a specific topic, many teachers even add a few related books to the classroom library, encouraging kids to learn more on the subject during free time or work periods. In this way, kids discover books are not only a source for entertainment and relaxation, but also for research and learning.
  • They provide structure. Children crave structure, so organizing a classroom into small, easily-definable stations gives them visible boundaries. Carving out a separate reading nook, in addition to other learning stations, helps to break up the classroom. Making the reading area well-defined and separating it from other, noisier learning stations also encourages quieter behavior and better focus, helping to establish lifelong reading habits.

Bringing the Love of Literacy Home

You can drive home the importance of books by borrowing the idea of the library corner. This could be an entire room in your home, or perhaps a study or office with a corner for the kids’ desk and books. If you have a dedicated play room or craft area, you could install bookshelves and some comfortable seating on one side of the room, or you could dedicate one corner of your child’s bedroom to a book nook.

At the Montessori School of Flagstaff Westside Campus, our private Montessori elementary school encourages parents to continue the teaching and fostering of their child outside of the school environment.  For more information about how our Montessori preschool program strives to promote literacy and a love of learning, contact us today to schedule a tour of our school.

Fall Crafts to Teach Thanks

Fall is the perfect time to teach children what it means to be thankful. At our Montessori schools, we love to teach through hands-on experiences and believe that crafts are a fun way to do this.

Fall Crafts that Teach Thanks

We put together a small list of some fun crafts you can do at home with your child to learn more about being thankful.

A Thanksgiving Tree – Colored construction paper and some tacks or tape is all you need for this craft. Cut out a tree trunk and individual leaves. Use these to create a tree on a space in your home that everyone walks by several times a day. Each day, decide on something you are thankful for. Have your toddler draw a picture on the leaves. Fill in a leaf and attach it to your tree. Each time you walk by, your family will see all the wonderful things you are thankful for.

A Thankful Book – You can use brown paper bags or create a book with sturdy card stock or paper. You will need 5 pages in addition to the cover. On each page write at the top.

  • At home I am thankful for …….
  • At school I am thankful for ……..
  • Outside I am thankful for ……….
  • In my family I am thankful for ……….
  • Other things I am thankful for ……….

Have your child fill in each page with drawings, writing or pictures cut from magazines.

A Jar of Thanks – This one is a simple craft. You will need a large glass jar, decorations and card stock. Let your child decorate the jar. Cut out small cards using the card stock. Now fill in the small cards with things you are thankful for; you can also have your toddler drawer pictures. When someone is having a bad day, they can go to the jar and remember all the things they are thankful for.

Create a Thankful Wreath – Cut out some leaf shapes in fall colors using colored paper or card stock. Have your child draw things they are thankful for on the leaves. Arrange the leaves in a wreath, securing them with glue or tape. You can have each child in your home make one of these and hang them on their bedroom doors.

These crafts are all great ways to help your child think about things they are thankful for and things they appreciate in life. It is never too early to start such a wonderful lesson.

Here at Montessori Children’s Center, we love to use arts and crafts to learn new things. If you are looking for a school for your child that includes hands on learning experiences, contact our school today to schedule a tour.

Three Magnet Activities for Kids

Magnets are a fun learning activity for your child.

Teaching how they have a North end and a South end can be both entertaining and interesting as your child learns how they repel each other. Gathering different items and placing them in a tray to explore which are attracted and which aren’t is also a great learning idea. Use different items such as pencils, paper clips, eraser, and other small items can provide simple but educational time for you and your child. These are three other magnet activities for kids.


Going Fishing

This is a great activity to create for your child they can play with you or even all by themselves. Attach a magnet to the end of a stick. Using a shallow box place a variety of different items inside. Use some items that are magnetic such as paper clips, small scissors, screws, or any other smaller objects the magnet will have the strength to lift. Include some items that are not magnetic such as; pencils or small plastic toys your child plays with.


If your child is playing alone, he or she can simply see how many of the objects they can remove by ‘fishing’ them out. If they are playing with a partner, have each player call out what they are going to remove, then attempt to lift it out. They can continue ‘fishing’ out the items until all those the magnet will attach to are out. The one with the most ‘fish’ will have won the game.


Magnet fun with pipe cleaners

Pipe cleaners are great to use with magnets and your young child. You can create ‘a wand’ by attaching a small rectangular magnet found at a craft store to a popsicle stick and then make a face on one side. You can even paint the creation to give it more of a character look. Using plastic eyes and a pom-pom nose will give it personality.


Cut assorted colors of pipe cleaners into 1 1/2 inch pieces and place into a bowl. When your child dips the ‘magic wand’ or personalized character into the bowl they will be amazed at the ‘hair’ their wand character comes out with.


Painting with magnets

Using the character you created in the previous activity, have your child paint a design. Place a piece of paper inside a shoe box with a few drops of different colored paint placed on it. Place a slightly bent paper clip on the paper. When your child moves the ‘magic character’ created underneath the box they move the paper clip through the paint to create a unique design.


The Montessori School in Newark applies the educational philosophy and methods of Maria Montessori, M.D., a renowned Italian physician and child educator. The Montessori concept of education allows children to experience the joy of learning at an early age.  To learn more about our Montessori Primary and Kindergarten program contact us to schedule a tour.