Artfully Outdoorsy Montessori: Planting Bulbs! A Lovely Way to Celebrate the Season!

I created this article for the Montessori Bloggers Network 15 Days of Montessori for the Holidays (2015). It was exciting to be a part of that festive blogging marathon!
Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

What is more exciting than discovering the first buds of daffodils pushing through the cold earth of the early Spring? 

Photo of budding daffodils by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

How about seeing the flowers opening right in the classroom   during the darkest days of winter to add that spark during the holiday season!

Photo of forced tulips by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

When my own children were young, I discovered a lovely book with gazillions of unique activities for celebrating holidays and the seasons with children. Diana Carey's, Festivals, Family and Food quickly became a mainstay for our family as well as a reliable resource for activities to offer to the children in my Montessori Preschool classroom as well.

This book is available from Amazon at this link: Festivals, Family & Food

One of my favorites from this book is the idea of planting bulbs around the time of Halloween as a wonderful opportunity to explore the cycles of nature that children are discovering in their world. 

Over the years, I have greatly enjoyed offering to young children an extensive process of planting bulbs in indoor pots during the crisp days of late Autumn. Then, their bulbs are beginning to flower in time for the holidays. This is actually called "forcing bulbs." These potted bulbs are wonderful seasonal gifts for the children to take home to their families. You can easily create this project for the children during the first weeks of December as a lovely take-home activity for the holiday season and winter break. I've even stretched these activities into the wintry days of January to bring cheer to the new year!

We start with clay pots, and these are some of my favorite things in all the world! I search around for previously used clay pots that are dirty and need some real scrubbing.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

You can offer clay pot scrubbing to children in an outdoor environment by setting it up at the water table in the Outdoor Classroom. There are some wonderful extensions to this activity in my past post at this link: Look What We Did With A Clay Pot! 

Here's the Montessori style tray set-up for a more individualized pot scrubbing activity that can actually be on the Practical Life shelf in the indoor (or outdoor) environment.

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

After the pots are scrubbed, then the children enjoy painting decorations on the outside of their pots. Simple tempera paints are very satisfying for clay pot painting since the clay of the pot really absorbs the paint well. I use a sharpie pen to write the child's name on the inside of the pot up near the pot's rim.  Then, I explain that s/he will be painting decorations on the outside part of the pot.  Next, the child turns the pot upside down and paints away!  Remember to have a protected area for the newly painted pots to dry overnight. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

The next day, the child is ready to start planting! I like to offer a choice of bulbs for the child. Two different bulbs like tulips and daffodils are appropriate since many children know these flowers already. However, I personally love Hyacinth bulbs and they are always popular with little children because of their purple flowers. I place a photo of the matching flower in the baskets that hold each bulb available for the child to choose.

Flower photos by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Children greatly enjoy filling their clay pot with fragrant soil. I provide a child size hand trowel and a big tub of garden soil. Each child prepares their pot by filling it to just below where their name is written on the inside of the pot. 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

It's important that the adult show the child how to place the bulb in the soil with the root end pointing downwards.

Since the children will each be taking home their potted flower bulbs, it is a good idea to attach a little tag that has instructions on the care of the bulb.  
I like to provide a colorful ribbon with the instruction label already attached. You can also turn the instructions into a sweet holiday card for mom, dad, grandparents...! 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

If you choose the type of ribbon that has a wire edge, then the child can wrap the ribbon around the clay pot and then twist the ends of the ribbon to secure it. Older children may like to actually tie a bow to secure the ribbon around the top part of the pot. CLICK HERE Get the free printable at my Subscribers Freebie Collection. 

 I love to introduce Timelines when everyone is celebrating the NEW YEAR! You can use this Montessori Style Flower Bulb Time Line in several ways. 
  • CHILD'S BOOKLET: Print off the blank templates for children to make their own booklets
Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company
  • MATCHING ACTIVITY: Print off two of the Flower Bulb Time Lines pictured above (download link is at end of this post) and create a simple matching activity for the child. Keep one control copy intact and then cut the 6 sections from the second copy and invite the child to arrange/match.
  • SEQUENCING ACTIVITY: Copy the timeline pictured above, cut out the six sections, laminate each, and apply magnetic tape to the back of each. Use with a metal cookie sheet and have the child arrange the six sections in the correct order.
  • NATURE JOURNAL: Make a nature journal with the blank templates in the printables at the end of this link. Copy the templates onto lightweight watercolor paper so that the child can paint each section, then hole punch and put together in a journal form. Click to see this idea for making a beautiful nature journal: Kelly Johnson's Nature Journal Making lesson plan at Age of Montessori.

You can learn more about flower bulbs by clicking here: Old House Garden: Fall.

And, I definitely recommend putting an Amaryllis bulb in the children's environment so that it is in bloom by Christmas or New Year's Day. One four year old boy who had been carefully observing our Amaryllis, came to me excitedly and said, "Ms Carolyn, that flower is just bursting out! " 

Photo by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

These free Printables mentioned above are part of my Subscriber's Freebie Collection with more than 30 free resources you can enjoy with your group : Magical Movement Company Subscribers Freebie Collection.
This article is part of the fabulous 15 Days of Montessori for the Holidays 2015.  And, if you missed the posts so far there are lovely ideas about Divali, Christmas Trees, and Family Traditions Montessori-style!

Just check out this list of the Bloggers featured!
It's delightful to have you visiting my Blog and I hope that you have enjoyed this post. I would love to hear your ideas, so please feel free to leave a comment in the section below!

Stay tuned for MORE about FLOWER BULBS & little children. I'm working on my UPCOMING POSTS featuring MUSIC, DRAMA & PICTURE BOOKS  for the STUDY OF FLOWER BULBS and PRESSED Autumn LEAVES for beautiful SEASONAL CARDS!

You can subscribe for my updates by filling out the form on the sidebar of this blog or at the end of this post if you are on a mobile device.


When you become a subscriber, you will immediately receive an email with the password for my SUBSCRIBERS FREEBIE COLLECTION, including my Musically Montessori eBook and more than 30 free digital downloads! 

Thank you again for visiting my blog today, and I hope that you have discovered some fun activities for you and your group!

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!

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The Australian Didgeridoo Brings High & Low Fun to the Montessori Music Room!


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

Our recent Montessori music classes have been chock full of activities with the concepts of High & Low in music. We've  echoed high & low in our singing. We've played really fun high & low games with listening & moving our bodies. We've listened carefully to funny high & low sounds of human voices. We've played high & low notes on the xylophone and we've even played high & low with rhythm instruments like the tambourine.

This week, our lesson featured the sound of the Australian didgeridoo. This is a very long, wind instrument that has an interesting and very low sound. 

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

I found several nice youtube videos with didgeridoo music. This one features the didgeridoo played with the Australian Youth Orchestra and I think it is wonderful!

To read more about the didgeridoo, and hear some examples of its sound, just click this link: Didgeridoo Store.

Australian aborigine people claim that the  best materials for making the didgeridoo are fallen tree limbs that have been hollowed out by termites! If you would like to read a sweet children's book about how a didgeridoo is made I found this beautiful little eBook at the kindle store on Amazon. Here's that link: Luku Makes A Didgeridoo. 

Back to Montessori music class! I introduced the didgeridoo to the children by playing a recording of didgeridoo music. First, I explained to the children that we would be listening to some very low music made by the Australian didgeridoo. I love to invite the children to repeat the name and they always impress me with how easily they learn this funny sounding word: didgeridoo!

Then, I show a photo of a didgeridoo so that the children can see just how very long it is and how it is played by blowing into it somewhat like a woodwind instrument. There are many great photos of didgeridoos on google images that you can use in your classroom presentations. The photos in my article here are from a stock photo site, Dollar Photo Club, with limited licensing rights. 

After I show the children some photos of a didgeridoo, then we prepare to listen to a recording of traditional didgeridoo music.

Here's one of many selections of didgeridoo music that can be downloaded from Amazon at this link: Didgeridoo & Sounds of Nature. 

First, I have the children prepare their ears for focused  listening by gently rubbing their ears along the edges. I tell them it is like giving a little massage to their ears to sensitize them for listening. I also explain that the didgeridoo makes a very low sound and it might be a little bit of a surprise!

After we hear a short example of didgeridoo music, then I explain to the children that it takes strong lungs to play this instrument. The didgeridoo player has to practice a lot and learn to use circular breathing using the powerful muscles of the diaphragm. Sometimes, I show the children a picture of the human body with the area of the diaphragm outlined. We can then feel the muscles of the diaphragm by placing hands just below the ribs and taking a long inhale...then a slow exhale! 

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

If you happen to have a didgeridoo, it is wonderful to show the actual instrument to the children. Tom, a preschool teacher at one of the Montessori schools where I teach, plays the didgeridoo and his group knows all about this interesting instrument!

I have a very fun rhythm instrument that the children can try out, one-by-one. It's called a "Didgeharp" from Remo Percussion. It works like  a "thunder tube", if you have ever heard one of those. This one is a short, sturdy tube decorated with Australian artwork and inside there is a spring that resounds through the tube when it is shaken from side to side.You don't do any blowing, just shaking!  The resulting sound is very low and sounds a little like a real didgeridoo. 

This fun "Didgeharp" is available at Amazon at this link: Didgeharp at Amazon.

All this fun stuff about the didgeridoo is a preparation for the High & Low Listening Game that we did from my all-time favorite curriculum, Music Room from Bushfire Press.

This High & Low Lesson is one of the music lessons from the eMusic Room iBook that is available from iTunes. You can check out the link on the right sidebar of this blog.

I will be offering a mini-eCourse with the Music Room curriculum in February 2016. Watch for updates on this blog! For a FREE DOWNLOAD of a very fun High & Low movement activity click this link: Bushfire Press Music Room Book 2.

I like to give each child a set of rhythm sticks so that we can play them along with the High & Low Game from this curriculum. If you don't have rhythm sticks, you can simply invite the children to place their hands down low when the music is low, and then raise their hands up high when the music is high.
The High & Low Listening Game from Lesson 3 has the didgeridoo playing for the low sounds and the Australian "clapping sticks" playing for the high sounds. 
Photo of Australian Clapping Sticks by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

When we play the game with rhythm sticks, I show the children how to play the sticks down low on the floor (like drumming on a drum) to represent the low sounds. Then, I have the children tap their sticks up high when the sound on the recording is a high sound. You can vary this activity for your group by simply singing a familiar song in a high voice, then in a low voice, etc. The children respond by playing their sticks by clicking them up high or by "drumming" them down low.

The rhythm sticks I like best for Preschool children are the ones from Basic Beat. They are just long enough to be comfortable for young children's hands, and this set has one that is smooth and one that has ridges...lots of ways to play these!

These rhythm sticks are available at Amazon at this link: 8 Inch Rhythm Sticks at Amazon.

Rhythm sticks are one of the best instruments for young children to develop the muscles of the hands that are necessary for playing just about any musical instrument. 

These same muscles are necessary when manipulating the mallets used when playing the Xylophone (or any of the barred instruments).

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

A strong, yet flexible grip, is necessary for grasping drum sticks, of course! 
Rhythm sticks played by young children are a great preparation for future playing of the snare drum in the High School marching band!

Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

You can read more of my articles about young children and the music concepts of High & Low at this link in this blog: MUSIC.

I have a new store! You can find my favorite early childhood products at MY AMAZON SHOP on the right side bar of this blog. There is a special CATEGORY for the Amazon products that I used in the activities in this post: HIGH & LOW WITH DIDGERIDOO. 

Once again, I want to thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you enjoyed the time here as much I have enjoyed doing these activities with young children. I love comments, so please don't hesitate to leave one if you have a moment! 

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!
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Flower & Leaf Pressing with Children, Montessori-Style!



One of my very favorite memories of flowers is of my own children (ages 6, 9, & 10) when we were homeschooling in the 1980's. We lived near an amazing and very untouched wilderness area called Harmon Den near our home in Fines Creek, NC. Just after a Spring rain, we drove up the road to Harmon Den to see a "symphony of flowers." (that's the name my children gave it!) While we were there just soaking in the beauty of the meadow of wild flowers, it started to rain again. A gentle, light rain. I got in the car to get out of the rain, but the children insisted on walking in the rain among the wildflowers! They walked all the way home, just ahead of me as I drove slowly and watched them frolicking along the lovely dirt road. My children (and now my grandchildren) OFTEN draw me back to nature & it's magical wonders!

After my recent eCourse "Herb Studies Workshop" at Wings, Worms, & Wonder, I rediscovered the fabulous flower of the Echinacea plant.

All photos in this post are by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

I also remembered what my own children loved to do with flowers that we grew. (Johnny Jump-ups & Sweet Pea especially!) They would press them in a flower press and then later they would place them in between 2 pieces of glass, solder the glass together and hang them in the window as a Suncatcher! We had a stained glass studio, and so the children would hang these lovely creations around our shop and they made money at it, too! What a real life learning experience for our homeschool curriculum: Math/bookkeeping/profit margin, Art, Botany, Handicrafts, Natural History, and lots of Social Skills development happening in an exciting way! (The kids really developed their people skills and got very good at selling their product and even charging sales tax!)

I decided to set up a flower pressing activity with the petals from my Echinacea because the colors are magnificent! The fantastic spiky centers of this flower will not press well, so I REMOVED EACH PETAL for pressing...a wonderful FINE MOTOR ACTIVITY for young children!

This photo shows my tray set up for flower pressing. 

Flower press is available from Amazon at this link: Best Nest Flower Press at Amazon.

If you choose to press plants with your little ones (and I highly recommend it) here are some pointers:

   Make sure the petals or leaves are spread out on the paper and not touching (they will stick together if they touch each other)
   Use blotting paper that comes with a flower press kit and place the cardboard first, then one paper under the petals or leaves and then place another paper on top of them. Then, create the next layer with cardboard, then blotting paper, then flower petals, another blotting paper, and cardboard again, etc.
   For young children, I find it handy to put pieces of packing tape over the backs of the wing nut screws of the press to secure them, and then leave the screws in while loading the press with your flowers or leaves.
   Just take off the wing parts of the four screws and put them in a little container so you don't loose them in the garden!

Talk about FINE MOTOR experiences...unscrewing and then screwing on the little wings of the wing nut screws requires lots of turning and turning and more turning!

I decided to glue my pressed flowers & leaves on the pages of my nature journal where I had drawn renditions of the herbs from the Wings, Worms & Wonder Herb Drawing eCourse. This adds a mixed-media slant and helps in actual identification of the plants.

You can read more about introducing water colors to children and having fun drawing & painting herbs at my past post here: Artfully Outdoorsy Montessori: Let the Children Draw Us Back to Nature!

And here: Artfully Outdoorsy in The Montessori Room: Realistic Leaf Drawing for Young Children!

Over the years, I have pressed autumn leaves with little children and these can be added to seasonal cards for the children to give to their families at Thanksgiving or Winter Solstice. I have given the children glitter glue in a jar with a brush to carefully apply the leaf to the card and it looks very festive!

The dogwood tree in my garden was just beginning to change with the Autumn season. I love the mottled effect.

These leaves from the Liquid Amber tree have a wonderful shape and press well. Later in the season, these leaves turn a gorgeous purple!

Watch for my UPCOMING POST on setting up this PRESSED LEAVES & MAKING CARDS ACTIVITY for young children! 

If you would like to have my posts delivered straight to your inbox just subscribe for updates at this link: Magical Movement Company SUBSCRIBE FOR UPDATES!

I am delighted that you are visiting my blog and I hope you have enjoyed your experience! I invite you to leave a comment if you have a moment. I love hearing about your experiences and what your little ones are making with pressed plants and nature art journals!

This post is one of many wonderful articles you will find at Living Montessori Now featuring "Montessori Mondays". Just click here: Montessori Monday Link Up!

Advertising Disclosure: Magical Movement Company may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. Thanks for your support!
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