Artfully Montessori: Designing a Robot with the Metal Insets!


Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club

One of the hallmarks of Montessori education is that the children choose their own activity and they are allowed to work with that activity for as long and as often as they like. This all happens within a carefully prepared environment and under the supportive guidance & observation of a caring adult. 

The Montessori materials are engaging and very versatile. Children can go back to their favorite activities year after year while refining their skills. As well, the materials have so many extensions that even older children continue to discover new ideas & inventive ways to fit the materials  into their growing abilities & interests.

These geometric design insets are some of my favorite Montessori materials. Children begin working with these in toddlerhood! Find out more about the Montessori Metal Insets at this link: Montessori Services: Take another look at the metal insets!

 Available from Montessori n Such at this link: Amazon Metal Insets

I found this short video on youtube showing  just a sampling of some of the ways children might like to work with the Metal Insets in the Montessori environment. 

The insets were designed by Dr.Montessori with their main purpose being to prepare the hand for writing.

In  her book, Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook: Sensory Education Part 2,  she writes:

"This exercise could be called an indirect but very real preparation for drawing. It is certainly the preparation of the hand to trace an enclosed form. The little hand which touches, feels, and knows how to follow a determined outline is preparing itself, without knowing it, for writing."

However, it is obvious that the insets also develop the artistic sense in the child and Dr. Montessori recognized this as well. She observed the children connecting the insets to shapes found in the environment and then creating artistic designs themselves.
"The exercises are various; the children themselves invent them." (Maria Montessori from Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook
4 yr. old constructing a robot using 
the Montessori Metal Insets

A few years ago, I had a 4 yr old in my classroom who really became interested in space ships, astronauts and jetpacks during our curriculum unit on the Solar System. His interest led him to create a series of robots with jetpacks on their backs. He even made his own paper jetpack that he attached to the back of his jacket for his amazing drama play outdoors!

Quickly, this boy discovered that the Metal Insets worked really well for creating his rendition of a robot with a jetpack.

Just take a look at all the skills he used in this creative activity! First, he thought of the design for his robot and then he began putting geometric forms together. 





Above photos by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company

If robots are the thing in your group, then your children might also enjoy this really fun musical activity: PRESCHOOL MUSIC FUN WITH THE ROBOT DANCE!

This post is part of the link up at Montessori Monday from the Living Montessori Now site where you'll find lots more articles that might interest you. Lots of Montessori bloggers post from all over the world! Here's that link: Montessori Monday Link Up. 

It's been such a delight to have you visiting my blog today. Thanks, and I hope you have some fun with metal insets, robots and creating your favorite shapes with your group!

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MusicallyMontessori100 Songs! Another 20 Favorite Songs That Teach Music Concepts Too!


Musically Montessori songs to teach music concepts

Over the past twenty years there have been many studies revealing how important music experiences are for a young child's cognitive development. 

These findings indicate that children benefit the most from actually doing musical activities: in other words "by making music!" 

You can read more about these studies by clicking this link: National Institute of Mental Health Report

Here's some more information at my past post here:
Musically Montessori: It's the Making of Music That's Important

Children in the early childhood setting love playing musical games and that is one of the best ways to stimulate their cognitive skills development! 

Preschool music Forte & Piano game

Preschoolers playing the "Piano & Forte" game Jeri-Jo Idarius Photography

You can read more about the "Piano & Forte Game" (quiet & loud in music) and the "Conductor Game" at my past post by clicking here: Magical Movement Company Blog: Piano & Forte Game.

I approach teaching little ones about music concepts in the most playful ways I can create! I have fun myself when singing in a high squeaky voice, or a low, low voice. Using the Montessori 3-Period Lesson and the Montessori "What's Missing Game" are two classic ways to introduce music concepts (and instruments, composers, etc) to children in a playful way.

Following are the next 20 songs in my series "A Hundred Songs": Favorites of the Children in the Montessori Music Room."  

You can find the first 2 sets of favorite songs in my past posts by clicking here: 
The First 20 Favorites and How to Teach Them

And here:
The Next 20 Favorites: Don't Forget the Traditional Ones

 100 Favorite Songs Categorized

  1. I Take My Voice Up High One of my quirky videos with a funny song for children to practice singing in a HIGH PITCH & LOW PITCH
  2. Listen & Tell Me What You Hear Wonderful game from Frank Leto to re-inforce the names & sounds of 5 basic RHYTHM INSTRUMENTS
  3. I Am A Fine Musician Great traditional song adapted by Frank Leto FOR PLAYING RHYTHM INSTRUMENTS IN AN ENSEMBLE STYLE (*See below)
  4. Be My Echo (1 &2) Really engaging echo game for PRACTICING RHYTHM PATTERNS
  5. Hot Cross Buns Good for exploring the concept of the QUARTER REST IN MUSIC (*See below)
I  * I AM A FINE MUSICIAN: In addition to playing the game of taking turns with various instruments as they are named, I also like to sing this song when giving out instruments to a group of children. I ask them to "rest" their instruments until everyone has theirs. I sing:
         "We are fine musicians, 
          We rest our instruments. (repeat)
          We're resting, we're resting, we're resting our
          We are fine musicians,
          We rest our instruments." 

  *HOT CROSS BUNS: This old favorite is a great song for activities to demonstrate the quarter rest in music. I introduce the song by showing the children a photo of hot cross buns (there are pictures on Google Images). Then I remind the children that when the buns are baked, they are still hot when they come out of the oven. Then, we pretend to hold our own "hot cross buns" in our open hands, then we practice blowing on them to cool them. The blowing action represents the rest in the song.
        "Hot cross buns (pretend to blow on the imaginary bun)
         Hot cross buns (blow)
         One a penny, two a penny,
         Hot cross buns (blow)"
  Later, you can introduce the rhythmic notation of:
        "Ta  Ta  Ta  Zha (for the sound)"

 Sing:     hot     cross    buns   (blow)

   See more about the quarter rest in music at my past post here: Quarter Rest Means Don't Play!


Magical Movement Company Dr. Foster nursery song rhyme
"Doctor Foster...stepped into a puddle, up to his middle..." (photo fromDollar Photo Club)
  1. Flying Man  A wonderful contemporary resource for teaching singing & playing in the Orff-Schulwerk method based on IMITATION, MOVEMENT, EXPLORATION & IMPROVISATION/CREATING
  2. Bell Horses Classic Orff-Schulwerk activity adapted by Lynn Kleiner & you can see her activities in the book that accompanies this mp3 album. This one is good for ENSEMBLE PLAYING. Here's the book link: 
  3. O My, I Want A Piece of Pie This is an excellent CALL-AND-ANSWER song that re-inforces keeping a continuos steady beat.
  4. Great Big House in New Orleans (*See below)
  5. Highway #1 Very good song for incorporating BODY PERCUSSION that fits into the rhythm of the song. Fun for children to copy the adult as well as create their own movements.
  6. Wee Willie Winkie First, DRAMATIZE the story. Later ADD RHYTHM INSTRUMENTS for the dynamic elements of the story.
  7. Ah Boom Chicka Boom Use this fun RHYTHM ECHO with any music concept (Ex: high/low, fast/slow, loud/quiet, staccato/legato, etc)
  8. Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar A challenging activity for children to develop UNINTERRUPTED BEAT KEEPING while adding each child's name to the rhyme.
  9. Head & Shoulders, Children, 1-2-3 Wonderful Southern U.S. rhythm with DRAMATIC MOVEMENT that can be varied in many ways (ex: "bounce the ball, baby 1-2-3, ...)
  10. Doctor Foster Great song for DRAMATIZING THE STORY. Use PROPS like an umbrella and place a hoop on the floor for the "puddle."
  11. Simple Simon Watch this video to see a CLASSIC ORFF-SCHULWERK lesson-to-performance with a song from this pedagogy.
  12. Did You Feed My Cow? Lovely FOLK RHYME with "CALL & ANSWER" component.
  13. Sally Go Round the Sun Another fun CIRCLE GAME with a beautiful song to go along
  14. Jack Is Hiding in His Box (* See below) Watch my "Homebound Montessori" Music Lesson for Kids, featuring this activity.
  15. Oh, John the Rabbit Another "CALL & ANSWER" song from traditional American folk music.
* GREAT BIG HOUSE IN NEW ORLEANS: I like to do this activity as a circle game. I explain to the children that this game is about keeping the beat going AND about their favorite pie. I ask the children to  think of their favorite pie so we're ready to add it to the song when it's each person's turn in the song. We proceed to sing the verse as we go around the circle keeping a clapping rhythm together:
    "Great big house in New Orleans
      Fifty stories high
      Every room in that big house
      Filled with ________ pie!" (fill in the blank with your 
      favorite pie) 
* JACK IS HIDING IN THE BOX: You'll need a hand drum for this activity. I play this activity with the sol-mi melody. After the children have had experience dancing to the Jack-in-the-box song, then I introduce this game. I invite the children to pretend they are a jack-in-the-box and scrunch down inside the "box". Then, I tell them that when they hear the drum, then they jump up out of the box! 
     "Jack (or Jill) is hiding in his box
      Somebody open up the lid....POP!" (tap the drum, then
      children will pop up out of their boxes at the sound of
      the drum)

Watch for my NEXT Hundred Songs Post: 20 MORE FAVORITES FOR SMOOTH TRANSITIONS & MORE with some fun activities, little videos, and links to the songs. 

You can SUBSCRIBE for my UPDATES by filling out the form on the sidebar of this blog. When you become a subscriber, you can access my Subscribers Freebie Collection with more than 30 free resources, including my Musically Montessori eBook!

Magical Movement Company Freebie Collection

Want to learn how to teach a new song to your child/ren? Or, how to allow children to "move" in a large group without too much chaos? And, what about playing rhythm instruments in a way that doesn't give you a headache!   

I am so happy that you are here reading my blog and I hope you have found some fun ideas 
to use with your child/ren. Enjoy exploring more of my posts about music, the arts, and the outdoor classroom!

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The Child's Culinary Arts! Let's Bake: Montessori Style!


All photos in the post are by Carolyn at Magical Movement Company 
unless otherwise stated

I first began baking with little children, when my first child was a toddler and I've loved it ever since! All of my own children grew up to be good cooks, too. Nowadays I bake with my grandchildren!

When cooking with little ones, you can just expect a mess! This is definitely part of the fun, but I prefer to have some procedures in place that make the experience fun, productive, and inspiring without being frustrating, unsuccessful, or tiring.

There are a few things that really contribute to a successful experience for your child/ren in the baking department. 

  • Sink or hand-washing station located near by
  • Child-size cloth aprons reserved just for food activities
  • Individual step-by-step picture cards for the recipe process
  • All ingredients pre-organized
  • All utensils & tools pre-organized
  • Expect some mess in the fun!

  • In the Montessori-style environment, each child works on an INDIVIDUAL MAT WITH ALL THE NECESSARY TOOLS  right there on the mat. At times, I have provided a cutting board instead of a mat, especially when the child needs to cut veggies or use a rolling pin.
  • With baking projects, I prefer that each CHILD MOVES FROM MAT TO MAT rather than working at one mat throughout the activity 
  • Each child begins with HIS/HER OWN MIXING BOWL and takes it along from step to step
  • Set the mats up so that the child moves in a LEFT TO RIGHT PROGRESSION through the steps of the recipe
I got my card holders at an office supply store, but I did find these on-line. Table stand/card holder available at this link: Montessori Services acrylic photo holder

  • Each INDIVIDUAL RECIPE CARD is placed inside a small acrylic table stand/CARDHOLDER (4"x6" or 5"x7") THE FIRST SIGN READS: WASH HANDS
  • Each CARD IS PLACED IN FRONT OF EACH MAT along with the tools FOR THAT STEP of the recipe.

  • I always place the WASH HANDS sign in FRONT OF THE FIRST MAT which has the COOKING APRON, THE BOWL, & THE SPOON waiting for each child. 
  • In a class setting, I have found that LIMITING THIS ACTIVITY TO 3 or 4 CHILDREN AT A TIME works best. It moves along fairly quickly and we've always had time for a group of 24 children to finish their cooking (and eating!) during a single morning (or afternoon) 2 hour work period.

  • I started out with this set of COOKIN' CARDS for children and they are very helpful: Cookin' Cards at Montessori Services. First, I CUT THE CARDS DOWN TO THE SIZE OF MY ACRYLIC CARD HOLDERS. Later, I made my own recipe cards to add to the Cookin' Cards collection of recipes (which I found really nice, by the way)

    • This is a great time to MAKE USE OF ALL THE PARENT VOLUNTEERS who enjoy joining the classroom occasionally to help out. Cooking projects always benefit from an extra set of hands!

    Take a look at all the SKILLS CHILDREN ARE BUILDING THROUGH COOKING experiences set up this way!





    For the baking project pictured in this article, we used gingerbread cookie dough already prepared. You can buy it or prepare it ahead of time. It works best if it is refrigerated for 24 hours. 

    If your group has the time, you could make the dough on one day and then refrigerate it overnight to complete the cookies the next day. 

    To make the dough in this Montessori-style set up, you would prepare cooking cards for each child to mix up enough dough for one gingerbread person. 
    Rough Example of approximate amounts FOR ONE COOKIE: 
          1TBS butter
          1 TBS light brown sugar
          1 TSP molasses
          1/3 cup flour
          1/8 tsp ground ginger
          1/8 tsp baking soda
          1/8 tsp salt
          1/8 tsp water
    Here's the link to a recipe for making a dozen cookies, so you can estimate how much for making one cookie by roughly dividing it by twelve: Food Network Gingerbread Man Recipe.

    Photo by the artists at Dollar Photo Club 

    All of the above photos of children using recipe cards for preparing gingerbread people to bake show CHILDREN CLOSELY SUPERVISED AT ALL TIMES. AND, THE CHILDREN DID NOT DO THE ACTUAL BAKING. 


    Over the years, I have used counter top toaster ovens, a portable convection oven, and a full-sized oven in a real kitchen. All work just fine for baking with children.You might enjoy browsing my Amazon Shop: "Cooking with Kids". Here's the link: My Favorites At Amazon Shop.

    This post is part of the Monday Link-up at Living Montessori Now where you'll find dozens of articles from Montessori bloggers all over the world. Check it out at this link: Montessori Monday Link-Up at Living Montessori Now.

    I am so happy to have you visit my blog! Hope you enjoy baking with your little ones as much as I do!  

    Advertising Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. (At no cost to you) If/when you make a purchase at one of my links, I receive compensation. Thanks for your support!
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    MusicallyMontessori100 Songs! Don't Forget the Traditional Ones... 20 More Favorites!


    Magical Movement Company 100 favorite songs
    "Don't forget the traditional children's songs! Design from Shabby Blog Designs

    All over the world, the songs that children sing are very beautiful with their sweet little voices and their big eyes shining! Likewise children, world-wide,  sing and chant little verses in their native language by the time they are three or four years old. Interestingly, the melodies of some of these songs are exactly the same no matter what language. 

    You know... that sing-songie "Rain-rain-go-away-come-again another-day" melody! Remember?

    That particular style of singing has a genre all its own and in the world of music education, it's called the "falling third". It is often sung as "sol-mi" when teaching children the beginning lessons in music notation. In which case, the "Rain, rain..." Song would be sung like this:

     Sol     mi    sol   sol  mi
    (Rain, rain,  go   a   way)
    Singing the names of the notes on the musical scale:
    also has a musical term, "solfege". You can learn more about solfege by clicking this link: Solfege at wikipedia. In European countries the "ti" is sung as "si."

    Musical scale solfège

    Musical scale solfège  Dollar Photo Club

    In the Orff-Schulwerk and Kodaly methods of music education, it is surmised that the simple sol-mi falling third interval is heard universally in children's songs because it is easy for children's voices to move in that interval range and actually seems to come spontaneously and naturally.

    That is probably why so many of the very simple traditional children's songs are still big favorites for the little ones. Lots of these incorporate the "falling third" interval in the melody of the song!

    Speaking of the musical solfege scale...Over the years, an all-time favorite of the children in my Montessori Primary Classroom has been: SINGING THE CHILD'S NAME UP (OR DOWN) THE SCALE.

    Singing the child's name up the musical scale

    Singing child's name up the musical scale

    As the group gains experience with making music, the hand signals of solfege can be taught so that children can begin to sing as a choral group.

    Here's the chart from the classic Kodaly Music Education Pedagogy:

    Solfege hand signals from Wikipedia: Kodaly Music Education

    I found this great little video on youtube that shows the Kodaly hand signs being used for the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star song!

    Following are twenty more favorites from my list of 100 songs that children love from the Montessori Music Room! If you missed my past post on the first 20 songs you can read it by clicking here: A Hundred Favorite Songs: The First Twenty.

    I've included links for listening to each song,  and you can download most of the songs at their links, as well!

    100 Favorite Songs Categorized

    1. Wheels on the Bus (*See below for a fun video using rhythm sticks with this song)
    2. Rain, Rain, Go Away (Stay A While)/ Starlight, Star Bright (*See below) 
    3. Ring Around the Rosey (Helpful for children to develop body coordination as they "fall")
    4. London Bridge is Falling Down (Here I teach the children the traditional game) 
    5. 1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Fingers (Great finger play for small muscle development)
    6. One, Two, Tie My Shoe (First 2 words are sung, then last 3 are spoken)
    7. Hickory, Dickory Dock (Great for hand motions, puppets, & acting out the little story)
    8. Miss Polly's Dolly Was Sick (Use hand motions with this one)
    9. Little Red Caboose (Children line up and move together faster, then slower, etc)
    10. Mary Had  A Little Lamb (Even this one is fun for acting out: 1 child is Mary & other is  her sheep who follows...etc)
    11. Row, Your Boat (Sit facing a partner and hold hands while swaying forward & backward as if rowing a boat)
    12. She'll Be coming Round the Mountain (Many fun hand motions & sound effects in this song)
    13. This Old Man (A Counting game and great for memory skills development)
    14. Five Little Ducks (Another math song/game with subtracting numbers!)
    15. Frere Jacques (There is a version of this song for virtually every language...teach them all!)
    16. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (Great for days of the week, or drama play)
    17. Oats, Peas, Beans, & Barley Grow (Another beautiful little dance & song)
    18. It's Raining, It's Pouring (Sol-mi classic!)
    19. Aiken Drum (*see below for a link to a great video of this song!)
    20. Mouse, Mousie (*see below how to play this circle game using puppets)
    *WHEELS ON THE BUS: Yes, I know you've sung it a million times, but check out this video with Brenda H. at the Orem Public library playing rhythm sticks with a group of preschoolers: Youtube Wheels on the Bus with rhythm sticks.

    *RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY: Here's a nice alternative I like, to the traditional lyrics:
    "Rain, rain
    Stay a while.
    Kiss the trees 
    And, make them smile!"

    *AIKEN DRUM: Madeline Potts has a very entertaining video rendition of this well-known song. Click here to view it: Youtube Madeline Potts Aiken Drum. 

    *MOUSE, MOUSEY: This makes a delightful circle game activity. 

    • You will need a cat puppet and a small mouse puppet
    • Children are gathered in a circle
    • One child is the "cat"
    • The "cat" closes eyes, wears a blindfold, or sits out of sight of the group
    • The little mouse puppet is passed around the circle of children while everyone sings the song.
    "Mouse, mousey
    In the house
    Hurry do!
    Or the kitty
    In the housey
    Will be
    Chasing you!" 

    The child who has the mouse puppet at the end of the song is the "mouse". All the children hide their hands behind their backs so the "cat" won't know which one is the "mouse."
    Then, the "cat" is invited to guess who is the "mouse".
    When the "mouse" is found, then that child becomes the new "cat." 

    I am so happy that you are here reading my blog and I hope you have found some fun ideas to use with your child/ren! 

    Watch for my NEXT Hundred Songs Post: 20 MORE FAVORITES ESPECIALLY FOR MUSIC CONCEPTS with some fun activities, little videos, and links to the songs. 

    You can SUBSCRIBE for my UPDATES by signing up on the sidebar of this Blog and when you become a subscriber, you can access my Subscribers Freebie Collection of more than 30 free resources including my eBook!
    Magical Movement Company Freebie Collection

    Want to learn how to teach a new song to your child/ren? Or, how to allow children to "move" in a large group without too much chaos? And, what about playing rhythm instruments in a way that doesn't give you a headache! 
    I invite you to check out my Musically Montessori eCourses
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