Themed unit studies play an essential role in our homeschooling curriculum. Unit studies (also called thematic units or integrated studies) use a hands-on approach to effective learning as children learn by experiencing and discovering first-hand through different activities. For us, unit studies are a way to bring a subject to life by exploring the theme from many different dimensions: through fresh shelfie set up, books that come to life, sensorial bins, language, and math activities with a twist and so much more. Unit studies add an emphasis to a particular area of study, allowing us to engulf in it fully. Holidays are the most beloved themed unit studies with my children as we decorate the entire Learning Space, and I rotate the materials to keep the engagement ignited and the love of learning burning.
Halloween Inspired Learning Space 2017
So, how about a Halloween a Montessori Way? (Read more here.) Many people celebrate Halloween as a cultural event, although I believe the Montessori approach respects all religious and cultural events that are relevant to each family to celebrate diversity and promote tolerance of differences. Celebrations and traditions can play a very important role in a child's life. Here, in the USA, Halloween is widely celebrated (it is the most popular holiday after Christmas), and we join in with the festivities joyfully. We do not like or promote gorry, bloody, or scary aspect of the holiday some might indulge in, and we keep it to pumpkins, friendly ghosts and witches. We try to participate in Halloween in a way that respects the child and you can do it by sharing with children the story of Halloween and how it is celebrated in different cultures; staying true to your family's own values; respecting your child's autonomy and wishes like what they would like to wear and whether to participate in a trick or treating (it's controversial whether to dress up an infant who has no say in what they wear). Also, take this opportunity to set many Practical Life and crafts activities (not to mention sensory trays) to promote fine motor skills: tonging, tweezing, using chopsticks to retrieve a spider from a web and explore the bloody red water beads! The most important is to have fun as a family! Alternatively, celebrate Fall/Autumn or Harvest instead. It's easy to substitute and modify many activities'and decorations to an Autumn/Fall or Harvest theme. For 🍂Fall Inspired Kids Activities ~ see here.
Below are the activities we have done around the Halloween. All activities are arranged by the area of study, rather than chronologically.
👻Eyeball 🌬Blowing 🍹
I used washi tape to make a maze on a white cardstock and then offered children to blow the "eye" through the maze. This is an amazing coordination activity as you have to blow just right: not too hard and not too soft to guide the "eyeball" through the maze: ages 5 yo - 100!
🎃Halloween Pom Pom 🕸Web
This Halloween inspired fine motor activity is a little variation to a traditional inverted 🍝 colander threading. Here, you would offer your child to thread pipe cleaners through both holes, then filling the colander with pom poms. Thereafter, offer tongs and have your child "rescue" pom poms from the 🕷web!
This fun threading with pipe cleaners activity is very easy to set up and is tonnes of fun! (Buy in bulk 800 pc pipe cleaners & pom poms here). This activity encourages hand-eye coordination and fosters creativity. All you need is a kitchen colander and pipe cleaners. This activity also has creativity at its core as your child can thread whichever way s/he wishes. I would suggest not to be prescriptive and let your child explore. Show your child how to thread and then simply observe.
SKILLS: problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, control of movement, pincer grasp, fine motor skills and dexterity~ all in one! Little hands need to develop dexterity and strength and this activity exercises fine motor skills which are essential in the completion of many important tasks such as writing, feeding oneself, buttoning, zippering, and more. Pipe Cleaner Colander Threading practices all of these as well as hand-eye coordination, color identification, requiring focus, concentration, and developing fine motor precision as little hands would need to wiggle and insert the pipe cleaners into tiny holes! [Ages: 3 yo +. Always supervise and guide your child, although this activity does not pose a choking hazard.] See more DIYs here ~ ✂️DIY, Crafts & Materials.
Halloween 🕷Spider 💚 Slime
See here Halloween 🕷Spider 💚Slime • Baking Soda Borax-Free 🏡Home-made ❌Non ♨️Toxic Slime.
Halloween Witches Marbled Sensory Shaving Cream Tray
See here Halloween Witches Marbled Sensory Shaving Cream Tray
For this sensory bin, I used dry black beans, colored penne pasta, and black shredded paper. (To color the pasta: slightly undercook the pasta so that it is firm, rinse with cold water, add a few drops of vegetable oil, food coloring, and 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar.) And to exercise those little hands and develop dexterity, I added bones and skeletons (buy similar here or add skulls) to be retrieved using chopsticks (5 yo+) or offer tongs (2 yo+) or smaller children can use their hands. I also covered the bin with stretchy spider web to make the retrieving part a little more challenging. We are using this tub from this table set to contain the mess.
I set this Halloween inspired sensory bin using dried black beans and white and orange pom poms. (Children sorted the above pom poms from this set.) This sensory bin can be adjusted to many age levels: smaller children will enjoy simply feeling the texture of beans and pom poms and filling TRP rolls with the filler: they might use their hands or you can offer a measuring spoon. (Always supervise as it is a choking hazard.) With older children 📈offer a 🎲dice and add a math twist to this Halloween sensory play. Each child would take a turn rolling the dice. This can also be a great opportunity to practice subitizing ~ that is being able to instantly recognize, without counting, the number of objects present in a small group (for example when a child estimates without counting the number of dots on a dice). You can offer various tools, depending on your child's level and have them fill a ghost or a mummy with a corresponding amount of either beans or pom poms using tongs, chopsticks or a measuring spoon. We are using this tub from this table set to contain the mess. Happy Halloween inspired playing and counting! Roll the dice 🎲 and feed ♻️TPR 🚽ghosts 👻 and a mummy!
We also made ghosts and a mummy from recycled toilet paper rolls/TPR. To make a ghost, simply cover TPR with white cardstock and draw eyes and a mouth and embellished with googly eyes. To make a mummy, we added two giant googly eyes and glued strips of cut toilet paper over it. Have a spooktacular Halloween!
🔶Orange Slime🕯️Light Table
See here a video post "DIY 🔶Orange Slime🕯️Light Table (🎃Halloween Inspired 🙌🏻 Sensorial 🖐️👀👂👅👃 101🎥Series)."
To draw a web, first, place a tiny dot, somewhere off the middle of your paper. Then, draw straight lines from the dot to the edge of the paper. Then draw curved (or straight) lines connecting lines on angles, to join the straight lines together – just like a web!
Adrian also made a spider from an orange glitter tealight, a practice golf ball, black pipe cleaners, and golden pony beads. Insert four black pipe cleaners through both holes of a golf ball, and you will end up with eight legs. Then, thread pony beads on each leg. To learn about these fascinating and often misunderstood anthropods, we read National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs book.
When the child paints over with watercolors, the glue gives the painting a 3D dimension and texture while remaining white. I have a very detailed description of the process ~ here 3D 🎨Jellyfish 💦Watercolor Hot Glue Texture Raised Salt Painting Process Art.
Process Art is all about the process rather than a result. The Guggenheim states “process art emphasizes the 'process' of making art”. As such, process art is all about the experience children are having while they are expressing their creativity! The MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) explains that “in process art, the means count for more than the ends.” So, let your child imagination, ingenuity, and creativity go wild while they are happily engaged in the PROCESS of ART.
Fall/Halloween Inspired Learning Space 2018
🎃Halloween 👻 🙌🏻SENSORY BIN
See here 🎃Halloween 👻 Inspired 🙌🏻SENSORY BIN with a 🔢Math Twist
🍂Fall & 🎃Halloween Inspired 📚 Books:
- Halloween Fun for Everyone! Dr. Seuss/Cat in the Hat
- Little Blue Truck's Halloween Board book
- Little Blue Truck Board book and Little Blue Truck Farm Sticker Fun!
- Woods and Forests, My First Discoveries book
- The Tree, First Discoveries book
- Awesome Autumn: All Kinds of Fall Facts and Fun Hardcover
- Look What I Did with a Leaf! Naturecraft
- Fall, First Step Nonfiction
What is🔍 on our🎃Halloween Inspired Shelfie 2017:
- Halloween Memory Game Basket
- Books ~ we absolutely love the Awesome Autumn book
- Fall-Inspired Stamps
- Nature Play Dough basket ~ see our🍁 Fall Inspired Natural Play Dough Cookie Cutter DIY Craft here
- 🎃Halloween ⛳️Golf Tee 🔨Hammering and balancing activity (see below)
🕷🎃Halloween 🤔Mystery 🙈Bag
A "Mystery Bag" (or a Stereognostic Bag) is a classic sensorial activity. In Montessori education, the stereognostic sense is defined as an ability to identify an object by distinguishing its shape, texture and consistency based on a touch alone (by running fingers over the object), without seeing it. A young child who learns by touching has a developed muscular and tactile memory, which refines his/her stereognostic sense.
This activity is very easy to put together: include pairs of a few simple items, each unique in its shape or texture. Mystery bag (or a basket) is versatile (items can be varied every time), and is engaging to the child who, with his or her eyes closed and relying purely on the sense of touch, would attempt to identify an item, name it and retrieve one-by-one.
The following is the order, in my opinion, from the least challenging to the most:
1) FIND and EXAMINE
The younger the child is, the fewer items (from three to five) should be inside the mystery bag and the more familiar the objects should be to the child (a wooden egg or a block, a cone, a spoon, a brush, a feather, a car/doll etc). A blindfold is optional as the child can simply close his or her eyes. Looking for an object inside a non-transparent bag already triggers a stereognostic sense. A child will find an item inside the bag: feel it, retrieve it and examine it a little more. So, it is more an exploration of objects, while isolating the sense of touch.
2) CAN YOU FIND ... ?
At around two years old, if a child does not speak yet, you may ask the child to retrieve a particular item while relying on the sense of touch only. For example, ask a child: "Can you find a mouse?"
3) WHAT IS IT?
An older child can also name the item after finding and identifying it, but before retrieving it from the bag. Remind the child to feel the object and tell what he/she feels, i.e. soft, fluffy, light, etc. , and then to say the object’s name “I think this is a car” before taking it out of the bag.
The mystery bag can become more and more challenging as the child refines his or her stereognostic sense. The other variation is to place pairs of similar items and ask the child to find the matching pair just by touching it. Usually, this activity is presented with Montessori paired geometric solids.
Here, Adrian (4 yo) is playing the 4th stage: "Can you find a pair?" game ~ not knowing what is inside (a mystery!) he would feel an object and try to identify what it is.
Adrian would then retrieve it, explore it a little more while still having a blindfold; then name an object, open the blindfold and see if he was correct or not. (The more familiar the objects are, the easier it will be for a child to identify them.)
I would suggest using real objects and changing them as often as needed to keep the child's interest. Also, the activity can "grow" with your child: for example, the less familiar the objects are, the harder it will be for a child to identify them - make it a real mystery! For even older children, to further increase the level of difficulty, increase the amount of objects in the bag, and make sure that the child names the object before s/he retrieves it (it is much harder to manipulate and examine an object when there are many other items right next to it in the bag). But, regardless of the process of presenting this activity, the mystery bag is a fun and exciting way to promote language development and to refine stereognostic sense and material visualization. Read here details about ~ Montessori Mystery Bag: Developing the Stereognostic Sense.
🎃Halloween 🌽Corn 🙌Sensory 🚜Bin
See here 🎃Halloween Inspired 🌽Corn 🙌Sensory 🚜 Bin & 🚜Tractors 📚Books
Tonging, scooping, transferring pom poms, corn and Halloween eyeballs! Not to mention all the tractor fun! (Buy 70 piece John Deere tractors value set here).
DIY 💉 Blood Model
See here a fun video ~ Halloween inspired ~ DIY 💉 Blood Model (BODY Anatomy Unit Study, Science🔬⚗️⚖️ 101 🎥 Series 🎇)
Learning Space 2018