Parents and teachers considering using unit studies often wonder what to do with the materials after a unit. Will there be another use for them? How and when can they be used again?
One of my favorite uses is a mini unit. Today I’m sharing ideas for preparing Montessori shelves for a mini fall unit.
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Montessori Shelves for a Mini Fall Unit
Our main theme right now is fire safety. I didn’t take away from that theme at all. I simple exchanged some of the general Montessori activities for activities with a Montessori seasonal/fall theme.
I didn’t leave my house or order anything new for a mini fall unit. I have more than seven years’ worth of free printables and activities just from my themed posts on the 15th of each month. What I did was to look through my Montessori-inspired fall activities to see which I wanted to use. I could have chosen one specific fall theme, such as apples or fall leaves. Instead, I decided to use a mixture of seasons and harvest-related/fall themes. In October, I’ll probably have a mini Halloween unit with a mini Thanksgiving unit in November. (Update: See bottom of post for Halloween activities.)
It took less than an hour to gather the books I wanted and organize trays and shelves for the mini unit. I keep the printables from each theme in files according to season. The materials from each unit are kept in clear storage drawers in the front of my garage. And I have a simple book organization system that I’ve loved ever since my now-adult kids were little.
Here are the seasonal/fall themed books and activities I added to my (usually) language and cultural shelf:
Top Fall-Themed Shelf:
- National Geographic Kids A Tree for all Seasons (a maple tree through the seasons with gorgeous photographs)
- Word-Family Tree Word Building with fall leaves (activity from my “Free Leaf Printables and Montessori-Inspired Fall Leaf Activities”)
- Autumn booklet for my 4½-year-old granddaughter to read to her 9-month-old sister and 6-month-old cousin (Using the materials from my post “Teaching Toddlers about Fall with the Montessori 3-Period Lesson”)
- Scarecrow, Scarecrow, What Do You See printable book for reading to babies (from My “Free Scarecrow Printables and Montessori-Inspired Scarecrow Activities”)
Middle Fall-Themed Shelf
- Apple Hundred Chart Art paper and control sheet in paper box – a Nienhuis paper box that I kept from when I owned a Montessori school in the 1980s (apple hundred chart art from “Free Apple Printables and Montessori-Inspired Apple Activities”)
- Paper box with square paper for inset work (this is also a Nienhuis paper box that I kept from my Montessori school)
- Metal inset (plastic inset) work (used as sensorial material for shapes plus writing)
- Silly shaped owls (from my “Free Owl Printables and Montessori-Inspired Owl Activities”)
Bottom Fall-Themed Shelf
- Montessori continents globe (for showing where and why it’s fall now)
- Sunshine Makes the Seasons (mine is an older version from when my kids were little)
- Printed alphabet wood tracing board (beautiful material and wonderful for extra work on letter formation) by FromJennifer – now I use it for “secret word” work
You can keep fall-themed books in a book basket like this. With 6-month-old and 9-month-old babies, I generally save the front-facing bookshelves for baby board books. I like to keep the themed books mainly on top shelves or in a book basket that I can move if needed. I simply redirect a baby to a baby book basket if there’s a problem with books in the themed book basket.
The Berenstain Bears’ Almanac is only available at a reasonable price in used paperback. It isn’t a Montessori-style book, but it’s about the Berenstain Bears, which most kids love. It was always one of my kids’ favorite books about seasons!
Note: Our fire safety books are still out on our main themed shelf and book basket. There are also some in this book basket behind the fall books.
Front-facing bookshelves are especially nice for unit studies. You don’t need to have a lot of books for a mini unit, but they’re great if you have them in your own library or get some from a public library.
These are the books I’m using right now for our fall mini unit. I’ll be adding more leaf books, then Halloween books, then Thanksgiving books in future weeks.
- Botanicum (beautiful book at any time and great for discussing plants in the fall)
- Animalium (also beautiful at any time and great for discussing animals in the fall)
- Food Anatomy (using in reference to the fall harvest)
- Farm Anatomy (focusing on farm activities in the fall)
- Seasons on the Farm (uses real photographs to show a farm during each season – available reasonably as a used paperback)
- From Seed to Plant (to discuss seeds in the fall)
- Corn Is Maize
- Ten Apples Up On Top! (not a Montessori-style book, but what fun!) – See my Ten Apples Up On Top activities!
- The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree (great throughout the year and perfect in the fall)
- Ten Red Apples ( a fun counting backward/subtraction book)
- The Fantastic Gifts of Fall (a lovely Christian book)
- County Fair (Little House Picture Book) I have and love the series. I put out different ones throughout the year.)
I most often have a mini unit for two weeks and my main unit for a month. Of course, set up units for whatever time period works best for you.
A mini unit is a fun way to rotate materials, reinforce concepts from a previous unit, observe how an activity is used from a new level of development, and add new knowledge and skills. You can have your activities on one shelf or (if you have a separate shelf for each curriculum area) have the mini unit activities on the appropriate curriculum shelf. Just personalize it for your home or classroom, and have fun!
Montessori-Friendly Halloween Books and Activities
Here’s a small area of Montessori-friendly books and activities I prepared for Zoey.
These are the resources I used:
- Pumpkins by Jacqueline Farmer
- J is for Jack-O-Lantern: A Halloween Alphabet
- Halloween (Rookie Read-About Holidays) – Note: The book with library binding has a good amount of information.
- Free Halloween Emergent Reader (available in color or to read and color)
- Free Halloween Rhythm Cards from Let’s Play Music (using for playing rhythms and matching cards)
- Free Montessori Phonetic Command Cards from The Helpful Garden (in the pumpkin basket)
- Free I See Halloween Emergent Reader
I have another area of fun, non-scary Halloween fiction books (such as Berenstain Bears Halloween books) near our reading place.
Montessori-Friendly Thanksgiving Books and Activities
Here’s a small area of Montessori-friendly books and activities I prepared for Zoey using books and materials I already had.
These are the resources I used:
- Children Just Like Me: Celebrations! (open book with many different holidays)
- The Thanksgiving Story
- Thanksgiving Fraction Materials from Montessori-Inspired Thanksgiving Math Activities and Free Thanksgiving Printables
- Turkey Fraction and Reading Activities from Free Turkey Printables and Montessori-Inspired Turkey Activities
2018 Montessori Series – Fall
This post is part of the 2018 Montessori Series with a Fall theme! See the posts below for lots of fun fall activities!
- 60+ Montessori Activities for Fall – Montessori Fall Themes Free Printable| Natural Beach Living
- Fall Printable Pictures in Spanish ~ 3-Part Cards | The Natural Homeschool
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a Mini Fall Unit | Living Montessori Now
- DIY Felt Parts of an Acorn and Oak Tree Life-Cycle | Mama’s Happy Hive
- Our Outdoor Autumn Essentials | The Kavanaugh Report
- Montessori Inspired Apple Activities | The Pinay Homeschooler
- DIY Montessori Inspired Pumpkin Life Cycle | Uno Zwei Tutu
- Scarecrow Sensory Bin | Sugar, Spice & Glitter
Learn more about my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to. Teach Grace and Courtesy! I’m also one of the coauthors of the book Learn with Play – 150+ Activities for Year-round Fun & Learning!
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