I had a post last fall to give parents and teachers ideas for using materials again after a unit. I love to have mini units fairly regularly during the year. They’re a great way to reuse materials, add a seasonal or holiday theme if it’s different from your current theme, and give a chance to review and explore materials from a new developmental level.
Today I’m showing how I reused a variety of materials to prepare Montessori shelves for a mini spring unit. Note: If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, check out my post on how to prepare Montessori shelves for a mini fall unit.Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links (at no cost to you).
Montessori Shelves for a Mini Spring Unit
Our main theme right now is kings and queens. I didn’t take any materials or shelf space away from that theme. I simple exchanged some of the general Montessori activities for activities with a Montessori seasonal/spring theme. The activities here are mainly for my 5-year-old granddaughter, Zoey, although some of them are used by my almost-15-month-old granddaughter, Sophia, and my almost-1-year-old grandson, Caleb. Sophia and Caleb have mainly non-themed Montessori-style activities on other shelves.
I didn’t leave my house or order anything new for a mini fall unit. I have more than eight 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 spring themes and activities to see which I wanted to use. I could have chosen one specific spring theme, such as Easter. I used a mixture of spring themes.
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/spring themed books and activities I added to my shelves that are usually used for language and culture.
Top Spring-Themed Shelf:
- National Geographic Kids Celebrate Passover (from my favorite holiday series)
- National Geographic Kids Celebrate Easter (another book from my favorite holiday series)
- Egg decorating using a Montessori inset oval along with colored pencils and pin poking work (activity adapted from my “Pin Poking to Develop Concentration, Coordination, and Pincer Grip for Writing.“) The tray is a Multicraft tray, and the box with square paper for inset paper work is a Nienhuis paper box that I kept from when I owned a Montessori school in the 1980s.
Middle Spring-Themed Shelf
- Music Maker Lap Harp – I love this for accompanying kids’ songs, Zoey (my 5-year-old granddaughter) loves to play music using the song sheets, and Sophia and Caleb love to strum the lap harp. It’s great for teaching them to use materials gently. I have a few different song packets, so I have some spring songs, such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Over in the Meadow,” and “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring” out right now. The lap harp is a fun and calming instrument that’s very easy to play.
- Multicraft tray and set of 8 handbells for a variety of activities. I’ve had this out for awhile now because babies and toddlers on up love the bells. For Zoey, I have music for “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Typically, she and I will make a mini handbell choir to play songs.
- Life Cycle of a Frog Activity using Safari Ltd. Life Cycle of a Frog and free life cycle of a frog with definitions from Montessori 123 (from my “Montessori-Inspired Life Cycle Activities”)
Bottom Spring-Themed Shelf
- Flying a Kite Word Family Sort into Real Words and Nonsense Words – Used the ake words from the free Flying a Kite Word Family Printable by Barbie Roper at Teachers Pay Teachers; op words are also available in the printable (from my “Free Kite Printables and Montessori-Inspired Kite Activities”)
- Cheddar Bunny Subtraction from my “Montessori-Inspired Snacktime Subtraction Activity”)
- Place Value Flowers using the free Place Value Flower Pots by Sarah Ridley at Teachers Pay Teachers (from my “Free Flower Printables and Montessori-Inspired Flower Math Activities”)
You can keep spring-themed books in a book basket like this. With almost-1-year-old and almost-15-month-old grandchildren, I generally save the front-facing bookshelves for 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.
I did this differently in the fall. For our mini spring unit, I placed the books about a variety of seasons in one basket. Here are some of our favorites:
- Sunshine Makes the Seasons (mine is an older version from when my kids were little). This is great for hands-on experiments!
- The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree (great throughout the year)
- From Seed to Plant by Ruth Heller (Note: I still have the version of this book from when my now-adult kids were little, but the cover hasn’t changed.)
- Seasons on the Farm (uses real photographs to show a farm during each season – available reasonably as a used paperback)
- National Geographic Kids A Tree for all Seasons (a maple tree through the seasons with gorgeous photographs)
- Tree by Britta Teckentrip (a beautiful peek-through picture book of a tree through the year)
- The Year at Maple Hill Farm (a book I’ve loved since it came out in the late 1970s)
- 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!
- Life-Size Zoo (I love to go to the zoo in the springtime, so I typically have some zoo-themed activities and/or books available in the spring. Zoey has always loved Life-Size Zoo and More Life-Size Zoo.)
- More Life-Size Zoo
- Botanicum (beautiful book at any time and great for discussing plants in the spring)
- Animalium (also beautiful at any time and great for discussing animals in the spring)
I also added The Story Orchestra: Four Seasons in One Day as a fun way to introduce Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.We love this book series!
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 spring mini unit. I’ll typically rotate them throughout the season.
- Make Way for Ducklings (a classic favorite)
- Mama Built a Little Nest (See “The Best Nest Books for Kids”)
- This Is the Nest That Robin Built (a creative variation of “This is the House That Jack Built”)
- See How They Grow: Frog
- Watch Me Grow: Duckling (See “The Best Duck and Duckling Books for Kids.”) The Watch Me Grow Series by DK has beautiful photographs and many easy-to-understand facts.
- An Egg Is Quiet (part of a beautiful series of books)
- Spring (I had this from homeschooling my own kids. Now you’d have to see if it’s available used at a reasonable price.)
- The Super Gifts of Spring: Easter (a lovely Christian book)
- Prairie Day (Little House Picture Book) I have and love the series. I put out different ones throughout the year.)
- Ducks and Their Ducklings
- A Children’s Zoo
- Adventures of Frog and Toad (not a Montessori-style book but a fun classic)
- Curious George Flies a Kite (not a Montessori-style book but another fun classic)
- La semilla de zanahoria (The Carrot Seed in Spanish)
- The Best Nest (not a Montessori-style but but another fun classic)
- Are You My Mother in Spanish and English (again, not a Montessori-style book but another fun classic)
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.
As I mentioned, 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!
2019 Montessori Series – Spring Themes
This post is part of the 2019 Montessori Series with a spring theme! See the posts below for lots of fun spring learning activities!
- Rainbow Salt Tray Sensory Writing Activities | Natural Beach Living
- Moth and Butterfly Life Cycle Printables for Kids | The Natural Homeschool
- How to Prepare Montessori Shelves for a Mini Spring Unit | Living Montessori Now
- Montessori Inspired Insect Activities for Kids | Mama’s Happy Hive
- Introducing Life Cycles to Younger Kids | The Pinay Homeschooler
Learn more about my eBook Montessori at Home or School: How to. Teach Grace and Courtesy!
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