For Emmy’s 2nd birthday we did a unit based on her favourite thing- birds!
1. First up a wonderful threading toy that I found for $2.
I had to double-check that I was indeed in Daiso (a dollar store) and not The Better Toy Store.
2. Invitation to explore
The threading toy and the following invitation were linked by the idea of homes for birds.
An “invitation” is borrowed from Reggio Emilia philosophy. It is an open-ended assemblage of loose parts. In this case, it was elements one might find in a bird’s nest, like stones, acorns and feathers, arranged from left to right and heaviest to lightest. The littles could choose to make their own nests…
Or simply have a closeup look at the details, as I also included magnifying glasses, a bird and a Lithuanian bird bell on our nature shelf.
They chose to magnify everything. Including their own snub noses.
3. Match a Pair of Birds
For Emmy’s birthday present, a beautifully-illustrated memory game of birds from around the world, with some level of difficulty as the male and female birds were illustrated with subtle differences…
Including some names which would be the source of much juvenile humour, I’m sure.
4. Bottlecap birds
I also extended the play by offering bottle caps that the littles could use to make their own birds, matched to the ones on the cards.
That tongue sticking out- that’s her look of concentration.
5. Baric exercise (grading weights)
Ooh.a foot reflexology board.
Turned upside down, it becomes a perfect holder for leftover Easter eggs.
In a Montessori classroom, you would have baric tablets for grading weight. The tablets have differing weights and each weight has a differing color of wood grain for a visual control of error. In my “classroom” I weighted the eggs with differing amounts of dough, pressed in so it wouldn’t rattle around and make distracting noises, and introduced the terms, heavy, medium and light… concepts they would already have experienced in the invitation to explore the elements of a nest, with their differing weights! Clever??
6. Book basket
For me, no unit is complete without books and art- books provide knowledge and art is a fantastic means to express that knowledge gleaned. I set the kids loose in the library and asked them to bring me back a book on birds. Dylan chose a perfect one, Nest. I included Woodpecker because it has huge photographs- this is probably the most Montessori – compatible book of the lot as it is realistic (Montessori observed that children were most captivated by reality).
For our book basket though, we featured the Australian – themed Ten Blue Wrens, along with a handmade Kookaburra puppet bought from our family trip to Melbourne.
Emmy loved patting the Kookaburra…
Whilst Dylan was more interested in the binoculars, which offered a different way of seeing- seeing far with binoculars as opposed to seeing up close with the magnifying glass earlier. I love connecting both ends of the viewing spectrum in a unit.
And this photo is mainly here because she’s wearing a bird shirt. Little details like that just make me happy like bird, to use a Singaporean idiom that means pleased as punch.
7. Bird art
I was inspired by the blurb on the Ten Blue Wrens book, which stated how they created the art by layering acrylic paint over plastic stencils.
So I set up my own! Including sponges and a stencil cut out freehand. The worse the cutting, the nicer the finished product…
Quite Eric Carle like?
If you liked this, do head over my Facebook page – I post everyday with new Montessori activities and practical life. For Singaporean readers, I’ve also shared on my Facebook a great free biodiversity app you can use with this birds unit!
And also check out my other units here. Each activity takes only 3 minutes to set up and can be created with materials from your own home-