Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our Montessori Pumpkin Unit

Before I seemed to realize it, Q-ball now over the 2.5 year hump, and quickly approaching 3 years old!  Toddlers who attend a traditional Montessori Children's House start as early as 18 months!  Thus, it is time for me to start to ensure their is direction in our learning. When following other blogs and even when reading books on the Montessori principle, it can be easy to get caught up fun activities to do, especially for toddlers and pre-schoolers.  So, I decided to reach back into the basics of my education education and start from the standards.

Here's our Montessori unit overview, based upon the Montessori standards from Montessori Compass and our state's pre-school standards.  For those familiar with various curriculum planning methods, I'm using the Understanding by Design method here. From this unit plan, I developed specific lesson plans that follow the same format. If any are a smashing success or maybe a dismal failure, I'll share as well!

Our first sensory box!

Established Goals:

From Montessori Compass

  • Holds crayon as demonstrated
  • Holds paintbrush as demonstrated
  • Demonstrates understanding of item’s position: top, bottom, high, low, etc.
  • Is able to understand basic ideas of day and night
  • Conversation pictures: answers specific questions about pictures
  • Works to complete a picture with pattern blocks with assistance
  • Independently works sorts items by size puzzle by size
  • One-to-one association activities

From State Pre-Kindergarten Curriculum Standards

  • Child takes care of and manages classroom materials. 
  • Child uses category labels to understand how the words/objects relate to each other. 
  • Child engages in prereading and reading related activities. 
  • Child retells or re enacts a story after it is read aloud. 
  • Child uses  information  learned from  books by  describing,  relating,  categorizing, or  comparing and  contrasting
  • Child counts 110 items, with one count per item.
  • Child identifies and describes the characteristics of organisms.
  • Child describes life cycles of organisms. 
  • Child demonstrates an  understanding that  others have  perspectives and  feelings that are  different from her  own


  • All living organisms have a life cycle.
  • Books can describe both real-life experiences and make-believe stories.
  • We can re-enact events in books.
  • We can re-create images.
  • A single number is associated with a single quantity.
  • Every object has characteristics that distinguish it from another object.
  • Some objects share similarities.
  • Individuals are responsible for maintaining their own tools and space.
  • There is a proper way to use writing utensils.
  • Objects or symbols can represent holidays or a time of year.
  • Day and night have different purposes and characteristics.

Essential Questions:

  • How does a pumpkin develop?
  • How can pumpkins be the same?  How can they be different?
  • How can you determine quantity?
  • How can you tell it’s Halloween time?
  • How can you tell it’s nighttime?
  • How can you tell it’s daytime?
  • How can you determine if a story in a book can happen in real-life or if it is make-believe?
  • How can you take care of your own materials and space?

Learning Objectives:


  • Define the parts of a pumpkin.
  • Identify the elements of a pumpkin’s lifecycle. 
  • Identify colors, sizes, shapes. 
  • Define location words. 
  • Count from one to five.
  • Identify features of Halloween.
  • Identify features of night time. 
  • Identify features of day time. 


  • Uses a crayon or pencil to trace a line and color a picture.
  • Uses a paintbrush to decorate a pumpkin.
  • Completes a pattern puzzle with assistance.
  • Describe various pumpkins.
  • Describes a pumpkin’s lifecycle.
  • Sort items by size.
  • Retell a story.
  • Re-enact events in a story.
  • Compare and contrast items.
  • Use one-to-one association when counting from one to five.
  • Describe the events that take place on Halloween.
  • Cleans up materials when project is complete.
  • Demonstrates care when reading books.
  • Demonstrate concepts of print.
  • Student uses visual cues to identify feelings.

Performance Tasks:

Summative Assessment:

Part 1:
We will visit a pumpkin patch to select our Halloween pumpkins.  While there, you will do the following:

  • When possible, identify elements of the pumpkin life cycle.
  • Describe the pumpkins you see, to include location.
  • Compare and contrast pumpkins.
  • Place pumpkins in order according to size.
  • Describe why you selected the pumpkin you did.

Part 2:
We will decorate our pumpkins.  During this process, you will complete the following tasks:

  • Re-create actions from the book How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?
  • Count pumpkin seeds using the one-to-one association method.
  • Use a paintbrush to decorate your pumpkin.

Part 3:
We will go trick-or-treating.  During and after this event, you will do the following:

  • Identify Halloween items.
  • Describe our activities.


Describe our pumpkin activities.  Explain what you liked and what you did not like. Describe what you would like to do again in the future, and if you would do anything differently.

Key Criteria:

  • Accuracy of information.
  • Participation.

Other Evidence:

  • Completion of pattern puzzle
  • Completion of Connect the dot activities
  • Read-aloud involvement
  • Ability to follow directions
  • Ability to maintain workspace

Learning Plan-

1.      Day 1- Read Pick a Perfect Pumpkin  and How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? Introduce final assessment, which mirrors activities in both books.

2.      Day 1- Trip to grocery store to see and feel pumpkins.

3.      Day 2- Complete connect the dots activities.  

4.      Day 3- Complete pattern puzzle.

5.      Day 4- Re-read books for more involved student input based upon current experiences. Elaborate on plans/wish for final assessment activity.
6.      Day 5- Complete one-to-one association activity.

7.      Day 6- Read Halloween books. Go on a walk to identify Halloween related terms at decorated houses. E

8.      Day 7- Introduce pumpkin lifecycle cards.

9.      Day 8- Free play with all materials presented.  Extra materials like coloring sheets and gourds are available for exploration.

10.  Day 9-10 Final assessment.

11.  Day 11- Verbal retelling of assessment events.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Watch Them Grow...

This is my first update post that covers both of our kiddos.  I'll morph this overtime, but for now, I'm just going to do a little write up about where the kids seem to be right now.

Q-ball reading to a napping T-Rex.

   It goes without saying that bringing a new person into the house is quite a change for all involved, but, overall, we are adjusting.  Bedtime and nighttime is the probably the most difficult time to juggle.  Q-ball's bedtime routine can take up to 2 hours, and when she is actually falling asleep, she is rather adamant about having Mama with her. A hungry newborn, of course, does not understand this.  During the night, Q-ball typically wakes up between 1-3 times at night and, again, demands that Mama help her go potty and go back to sleep. And, as a toddler, she does not understand why the new baby needs to eat at 3 am, and why Daddy has to put her back to sleep.  So, we are working through these issues.
  Q-ball has had a few meltdowns that are uncharacteristic for her. But, she seems to really love her new brother, and has never expressed anger towards him.  She seems a little more comfortable now that she knows that she can still nurse after T-Rex. But, she is annoyed that we respond immediately to T-Rex's cries, but we encourage Q-ball to use words vs. tears and screams.
   Fortunately for us (and him!), T-Rex is a really easy going guy. He will happily lay  alone under his mobile or next to the mirror for extended periods (about 10 minutes in baby time).  And, as of this moment, he does seem to enjoy his sleep, but he is still trying to figure out how to fall asleep. And, we excitedly get lots of spontaneous smiles.  We are working on elimination communication, and I'll have more specific updates on that later, but we now typically have at least one catch a day.  Which, I consider a success given that we are only doing it part-time.

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