Friday, December 17, 2010

Toddler Fun Learning Activities 2


After the success of our last bunch of activities with Allah's Grace, I felt encouraged and charged for adding and making more. Beidhnillah. I have also been getting ideas from, so many Muslim and Non Muslim blogs plus these Montessori videos on ehow. 

There are some videos in which the method used is not 100% Monetessori, but for a layman (lay-montessorier) they are definitely a source of inspiration. That's pretty much as close as I can get to learning visually about this wonderful method. I will be sharing some of the link videos below in this post too. :) 

 Alhumdolillah I also have the opportunity to double check with my Montessori trained friends. Who have spent long hours, LOADS of efforts in becoming trained Directresses Mashallah! 

I learnt that in Montessori method the activities are always kept in the same position and NEVER rotated. That way the child always knows where to find the activity and where to put it back. I am seeing  the wisdom in that practically through my Lil Muallimah, Alhumdolillah! On the other hand I have limited shelf space so I will have to work my way around that by upgrading the activities when Lil Muallimah is ready for it Inshallah.

In my last post I forgot to mention Lil Muallimah's actual workplace. It's convenient for her as it is upto her scale. Didn't invest in special kids desk, just used an extra table I had in home and a kids stool (both from Ikea)

I have had to change the activities on the shelves a bit. I have removed some of the learning toys from the shelves, and moved the wet and dry pouring activities in the kitchen. This facilitates clean up and also keep then busy while I am working in the kitchen. Though we may still do it in the study room sometimes.

New Activities

This time round you will find me sharing ideas for the following categories Inshallah:

  1. Sensorial: recognizing different sounds
  2. Math: sense of length
  3. Balance: walking through a maze
  4. Hand eye coordination: beading, scooping & dry pouring
  5. Motor Skills: Sponging
  6. Shape Sense: finger drawing
  7. Sorting: colors
  8. Logical Thinking: sequencing, matching and pairing


Recognizing different sounds

Okay so this one is really cool and fun to make. The best part is, when you see the child has mastered it you can change the sounds. What am I talking about? Sound boxes. The purpose of this activity is to engage the sense of hearing, enabling the child to recognize/differentiate  sounds.

To make this activity I found some transparent bottles at the $ store in the crafts section (6 for $ :)). I bought 2 packs. To make the sound bottles I needed 2 sets of 6 bottles with color.
 I cut thin strips of construction paper according to the height and diameter of the bottle. In my case it was 3cm x 9cm. I simply took the strip rolled it and inserted it in the bottle. No gluing no taping. Then to cover the bottom of the bottle I cut circles 3 cm in diameter and inserted it in the bottom and pressed the sides to make sure it was fixed. Voila! the bottles were now ready to be filled.

You could use anything to put in them lying around the house. Just make sure each set of bottles has one bottle with exactly the same objects so they make the same sound. I used: 3 crystals, 1 wooden bead, 3 nuts, 1/2 teaspoon rice and a 1/4 teaspoon lentil. I left one pair of bottles empty.

Once it was all done I placed the blue bottles in the blue tub and the red bottles in the pink tub. Now for some Sound FUN!!!!!

So she was asked to pick one bottle shake it and hear the sound it made then, she had to pick a bottle from the other tub and find  the bottle with the matching sound. It's quite exciting to see the intense concentration, the shaking of each bottle next to the ears. :) Once a match is found the two bottles are kept together  and she starts all over again.

Lil Muallimah really enjoyed this activity. Not only that, while she was doing it, Lil Muallim # 2 kept saying "Can I do this after her this looks sooooo FUN!!" And once he was done I put in front of Lil Muallim # 3 who had just come in the room and he did it too. He infact, did it extra cautiously... not wanting to take any chances hehehe!!! That was fun to watch. ALHUMDOLILLAH

Tip: You could use anything that can be closed tight to make them, like bottles, boxes, camera film cases etc.

The important thing is that as this is a sensorial activity. It should be done in silence with concentration. You can see how in the video.

Another awesome DIY idea can be seen in this blog.

Also found a link on flickr to make these out tissue rolls. (check out the following pictures to see the steps)

And this is what the actual Montessori Sound Cylinders look like


Sense of length

You may have heard od the red rods in Montessori method. These are wooden rods of different lengths that are to be set like stairs when put on order of length. The key is to hold the rods ONLY from the ends to get the feel of the length increasing or decreasing. The rods work on base 10, the longest being a meter and the consecutive ones decreasing by 10 centimeter, making the smallest 10 centimeter in length.
Well for now I thought of making our red rods by cutting strips from a very heavy carton box I picked up from our local grocery store. This was an excellent math activity to involve Lil Muallim # 1 in.  I made him mark lines of 2.5 cm width. Then I cut them with a sharp blade cutter.

The actual measurement for red rods is: 

  1. 2.5x2.5x10cm, 
  2. 2.5x2.5x20cm, 
  3. 2.5x2.5x30cm, 
  4. 2.5x2.5x40cm, 
  5. 2.5x2.5x50cm, 
  6. 2.5x2.5x60cm, 
  7. 2.5x2.5x70cm, 
  8. 2.5x2.5x80cm, 
  9. 2.5x2.5x90cm, 
  10. 2.5x2.5x100cm.

As I was making these with strips cut out of a carton, I only maintained the width and length not the depth.

Lil Muallim # 2 was responsible for gluing two strips together. As the strips got bigger I had to actually join a couple of strips together by sticking another stick to remaining length of the single strip. Then  placed some heavy books on top to press.

  I used Lil Muallim # 1 as my measurement calculator. As our ruler could measure only 38 cm, he calculated how much more to make 50, 60, 70 ......100 cm. in his words................

 " I am just thinking logically, as you said each strip increases by 10 cm then I am just telling you the answer by addimg ten more to my previous answser" Mashallah! He helped a lot in this project and got a thorough measurement review Alhumdolillah!

Once the strips ahem.. rods were all stuck together, the Lil Muallim # 1 painted one side and Lil Muallim # 2 painted the other with acrylic paint. 

Once they are all dry I will coat them with contact sheet for durability and securing the paint. This was a BIG family project, taking almost 2 day.

Honestly speaking, the last 100 cm one is left to be made, Lil Muallimah cannot hold the 90 cm and 100 cm ones by the ends, too long for her. 

These are only 9 rods, I am still working on the 10th one
I was so excited to share this with you all that I couldn't wait for the last rod and try out this activity.

Using Red Rods
 The method to work with red rods is to place a mat on the floor. This defines the space to work in for the child. Then ask the child to pick up the rods from the shortest to longest and place them on the mat not in order.

 Then ask the child to build a stair from longest to shortest always remembering (reminding) to hold the rods from the end only. This gives the child a sense of length as the distance between their hands increases and decreases. This further heps them correct themselves through their sensorial experience. It gets tougher to hold the rods from the ends as they get bigger, so the adult can help. Got to love this! 

I personally found this to be a learning activity for all my Lil Muallims as:

 Lil maullim # 1 got to practice measuring exact width and lengths and working in base tens. Hands on conversion practice from metres to centimters, and decimeters and  milimeters . (will make anoither post on this)

Lil Muallim # 2 got to visualize and feel a meter, and learn how to measure and stick thin strips aligning them together.

Lil Muallimah got to learn differences in length in a VERY hands on experience Mashallah

As we are getting to do more and more Montessori style activities Lil Muallim # 1 reflected: " I always thought Montessori was only for babies" hehe well if it was ... Lil Muallim # 1 is thoroughly enjoying being a baby hahahaha

 Step by step guide to this activity and variations can be found here.

NOTE: if you are handy with tools, have lumber lying around and time on your hands not to forget ULTIMATE DEDICATION you may enjoy this post on DIY red rods.


Red Rod Maze

In Montessories the red rods are also used to help children improve their balance by making a maze with them. Lil Muallim # 2 loved ,aking teh ,aze and was wondering what other shape mazes we could make. He then taught Lil Muallimah how walk carefully through it.


  Reaching the centre without touching the rods was a big Yay moment. That was fun to watch! Alhumdolillah!

Infact all 3 kids did it again and again. Awesome family time.

Hand Eye Coordination


Beading is always an all time favorite for kids and moms alike. For this one I simply got colored wooden beads and a pipe cleaner. It prevents the beads from sliding down. An alternate can be a thin shoe lace pack from the $ store. Voila! Beading activity. This one works wonderfully with boys too. Lot's of concentration. :) 

You will notice rounded end on one side of the pipe cleaner. It is actually supposed to be a head of a caterpillar with antennae. Now my surprise factor in this activity was that Lil Muallimah put two beads on the antennae too. That made it look so cute Mashallah. 

If you look carefully you can see, not only did she add these on her own but she also chose the same colored beads too. Infact, there were only two beads of that color in her bowl. I was overjoyed to see her creativity Mashallah! These things can't be suggested they have to come on their own.


NOTE: can get messy if motor skills aren't very strong. I recommend doing this activity in a floored, not carpeted area.

I took two empty tubs of  whipped cream and measured in around 1 1/2 cup if rice. I placed a small measuring scoop and Lil Muallimah had to scoop up the rice from one tub to the other and then back again.

Lil Muallim # 2 couldn't wait for his turn :) I had to mediate acouple of times during the day! hehe

Dry Pouring

We also tried dry pouring, with lentils. Loved it. Dry pouring is actually better introduced before wet pouring. For children with less developed motor skills large beans are even better. When my older one was small he really used to enjoy pouring the beans.

Dry pouring can be done with or without the funnel. 

This activity not only helps in bringing stability and strength to their hand and arm muscles but also teaches patience. They learn by trial and error that:
  1.  if they pour too fast the funnel tube gets clogged and then they have to either gently tap the funnel a couple of times without spilling or unclog it with something thin :) (like a coffee stirrer)   
  2. pouring gently and slowly, controlling the tilt of the jug makes the transfer easy with no road blocks (meaning funnel clogs :))

Motor Skills: 


Like most kids Lil Muallimah LOVES water. Mashallah! To enhance her hand muscles and quench her desire to play with water I have introduced this activity. 

I placed two bowls in a tray one holding 1/4 cup of water. Lil Muallimah has to soak the sponge in bowl one take it out and squeeze the water into the other bowl by squishing the sponge. To see the sponge swell up in the first soak is so exciting :).

When all the water is transferred the sponging and squishing is repeated to get all the water back into the first bowl.


Sensorial-drawing shapes in a rice tray

This one is pretty simple and a lot of us do it. I used rice instead of sand as I find it easier to clean and not be wasted, cause I can always pick it up and feed it to the birds. A lesson on taking care of Allah's creatures and not wasting follows suit. Alhumdolillah!

Also it is an excellent way to get Lil Muallimah or Lil Muallim # 2 to clean up. They use these cute little child size broom and dust pan we bought in pack of CLEANING toys by kidconnection at Walmart! :)

Yesterday was the first time I introduced this and the other rice activity above to her and she and Lil Muallim # 2 kept coming back to it all day. (yes we did have to clean up some of the rice from the floor a a couple of times but they enjoyed a LOT Alhumdolillah) I had to literally tear her away from it at night.

Here are some shapes Lil Maullimah made in it.......Lil Muallim # 2 taughter her to make the heart by day 2 she was making beautiful ones. Mashallah!

Shemi-circle :)


I taught her to level the rice by gently moving her hand over the shape and the slightly shaking the tray holding its.

I am working on Montessori inspired geometric shapes activities, will share soon Beidhnillah.



While I was reorganizing some drawers and getting rid of my clutter I found some odds and ends and decided to make an activity out of then unstead of throwing them This brought me to  make our color sorting basket. Now this basket is loaded with bottle caps, marker caps, bands, beads and just about anything  that could easily go in the trash bin. I made sure whatever I kept was in one solid color even if it was a different shade of a particular color. 

We are using the same color name cards for this activity as in our previous color recognition activity.

Here's how it goes. Lil Muallimah sets out the color name cards (initially only 2 -3  color names) then picks out objects from the basket one by one and matches the object color with the color name. When she finds the match she places the object under the color name card. Theres lot's of concentration, self correction and sense of accomplishment in this activity. 

As for the objects to use just make a small box for small odds and ends in the house and collect them instead of throwing them and make a simple and exciting activity out of trash. How cool is that?

If working with smaller kids start with basic primary colors. You will find this short video very informative, where she tells that Maria Montessori initially made this activity with spools of thread... Now why didn't I think of that?

Logical Thinking

Some good store bought finds led to:


Visiting the States I actually found a pack of these cards at Target in their $ section. It has cards of different shapes in different sizes. Only thing is each shape also has different color. Again there is too many different things going on in this activity. No isolation. One can choose how to use them based upon their child's abilities. A good buy none the less.

Matching and Pairing Shapes

I also found this book at the $ store for $2 and literally jumped and grabbed it. I found it be so cute and useful Mashallah. It is a magnetic book with a transparent case attached to it which can be closed after every use. This case holds pairs of shapes. Now Lil Muallimah can use the shapes to either play a matching game with the shapes or match the shape to the object in the book. 

Take a look:

Game Variations

Match the shapes

Separate all shapes by Color

Matching and Pairing Numbers

Number Sense and Number Recognition

I also found another book like above for numbers. Lil Muallim # 2 makes Lil Mullimah play find the number magnet and matching numbers on the magnetic board and with Lil Muallimah (copying me!). 

May Allah protect them! Ameen

THOUGHT: Teacher outlet/School supplies stores may have even better alternates but I haven't gone that direction yet.......always wondering do I really need to pay that much? I am also scared that if I go there I would want to buy so many things!!!!!! :) Wouldn't you? :) Plus the satisfaction and pleasure one gets out DIY projects is priceless. Alhumdolillah!

More to come soon Inshallah!


KEO said...
hi, these are our DIY sound cylinders.
see u

Umm Umamah said...

I love your sound cylinders what lovely bottles. :)

Jessica said...

The sound simple! Put the paper on the inside...that works much better. Thanks for the suggestion.

Umm Umamah said...

Your'e Welcome Jessica. Thought you would like it. Glad to know you dropped by. :)


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