The Alphabet and Number Christmas Trees
Christmas is and has been my favorite time of the year. In fact, it has always started earlier for me than most people in the United States because I grew up in the Philippines. There, we celebrate through all the “-BER” months (SeptemBER, OctoBER, NovemBER and DecemBER!) Christmas music and bright lights fill the sky as the whole country enjoys this much awaited season. To the surprise of many, I put my Christmas tree up right after Halloween. (That means…next week!) Since I am not accustomed to decorating for Thanksgiving, I just jump right into Christmas!
This year, I am excited to be participating in this wonderful Montessori holiday series alongside some amazing moms and bloggers from The Montessori Bloggers Network! This blog hop will feature different ideas and activity inspirations for the upcoming holidays. I can’t wait to read everyone’s entries and incorporate them into our festivities this holiday season! Hop on by to http://montessoribloggersnetwork.com/15-days-of-montessori-for-the-holidays/ for more information!
Simone from The Montessori Notebook kicked off this series with her awesome entry on “Creating holiday rituals with your children” (http://www.themontessorinotebook.com/creating-holiday-rituals-with-your-children/) followed by Marie from Montessori by Mom with “How to Make a Montessori Inspired Christmas Activity!” (https://www.montessoribymom.com/blog/how-to-make-a-montessori-inspired-christmas-activity/)
Today I will share two activities that will reinforce the love for letters and numbers through everyone’s favorite Christmas icon — The Christmas Tree!
First, at home, we have been learning about the alphabet and their sounds. We have been using “the movable alphabet” (A wooden box containing 5 of each consonants in red and 5 of each vowels in blue- some come in all capital letters and some come in all lower case letters.) to create words and to sound out each letter. Our focus was on lowercase letters.
In contrast, I thought a fun and festive way to introduce capital letters to my three year old was through this alphabet Christmas tree. With the help of some scrabble tiles and painters tape, we were able to create this easy and budget-friendly activity! Micah had a blast matching the scrabble tile letters (which was $3.99 for 60 pieces) with the corresponding printed ones (that I had written) on the tree.
A. The Alphabet Christmas Tree
Tree: green painters tape; Sharpie; wooden alphabet tiles or old scrabble tiles; scissors; invisible tape
Star and gifts: felt; metal insets and pipe cleaners (optional)
1. Use the painters tape to make your tree. I made 26 branches; one for each letter of the alphabet (doesn’t have to be in order; scramble them for a challenge).
2. With the Sharpie, write a letter on the end of each “branch” of the tree.
1. Introduce the lesson to the child and show him the tree.
2. Have the child get a work mat and lay it on the table.
3. Lay out all the letters face up on the mat.
4. Say the name or sound of the letter and have the child look for it in the pile.
5. Once the child finds the letter, place a piece of tape on the back of the tile.
6. Have the child take the tile to the tree and match the tile to the corresponding letter on the tree.
7. Have the child repeat the name or the sound while he places it on the tree.
8. Repeat steps 4-7 until all the tiles have been placed.
9. Add a star and a couple of gifts to make it more festive!
10. Sing the Alphabet Song to end the activity!
* The star and gifts were add-ons because Micah thought they would be a fun to have under our Christmas tree. So, we made them with the felt sheets. We cut out a star and used the metal insets (This is a classic Montessori material that includes 10 pink square frames with 10 blue insets that allow a child to acquire the mastery of hand in using a writing instrument.) as shape outlines to make the gifts. We drew the shapes onto the felt and cut them up. We then added some pipe cleaners as decorations.
B. The Numbers Christmas Tree
Next up is our festive adaptation of the “Cards and Counters” Montessori material. This material is a great way to reinforce the knowledge of each number and its corresponding quantity. It is also used to introduce the concept of odd and even.
I modified this by only using the numbers 1 to 5. Comprehending the concept of 1 to 10 all at once was still a little overwhelming for my three year old. By simplifying it, my son was able to practice it more often (and hopefully master it sooner). We could always add on more numbers. This activity also reinforced the use of fine motor skills.
Green felt for the tree; scissors; Velcro dots; buttons (as ornaments), small box, number cards
1. Cut the trees out of the felt.
2. Create the layout for each of the buttons as they correspond to the number.
3. After you complete the layout, add the Velcro dots to the felt and to the buttons. I chose to use the same color buttons to represent each number. (1-yellow; 2-green; 3-orange; 4- purple; 5-blue)
1. Ask the child to lay out the cards on the table while saying the numbers out loud. (They do not have to be in order.)
2. Have the child find the “1” card and place it to the left side of the corresponding “one” Velcro dot.
3. Have the child say the number, find the corresponding button/s counter/s from the box and attach it/ them to the Velcro dots next to the numeral card.
*The color-coded buttons/ counters serves as a subtle guide to show the child which ones go together.
5. Repeat until all the buttons/ counters have been properly placed.
6. Once completed, have the child go through each number and count the buttons/ counters again.
7. Don’t forget to clean up! Remember to remove the buttons gently from the Velcro dots because they come off the felt pretty easily.
*My 21 month toddler wanted in on this activity too! He got creative and started decorating the tree by randomly attaching the different buttons onto the Velcro dots. He had a blast too! It was like decorating his own “mini-tree.” Yehey for double purpose materials!
*** AGAIN. Remind your child to be gentle when detaching the buttons from the Velcro because the dots have a tendency to come off easily! It may seem like such an easy task for adults but for those with little fingers, this can be a real challenge. Titus (our 21 month old) showed a lot of concentration while removing the buttons. I was amazed at how focused and careful he was especially after one of the dots accidentally came off. He struggled through finding the balance of how much force to use to pull the button out but still be careful enough to keep the dot in place. It took a while but he figured it out himself! Yehey!
These two activities can be adapted and modified for both younger and older children depending on need. They are simple, budget and fine-motor-skills friendly. I hope your child/children enjoy them as much as mine did!
If you get the chance, please make sure to visit these wonderful blogs below. Each one will feature and publish a Montessori themed holiday post from October 25- November 11! Hop on over to Little Fingers at Work for some Diwali inspired activities! Then pay a visit to At Kid Level for some outdoorsy fun! Don’t forget to swing by Magical Movement Company to check out some practical life activities for the holidays in the next few days! Some upcoming topics also include “Christmas Sensory Matching for Toddlers” (for those of you with little ones like me!), “Holiday Picture Book Play” and many more! Don’t those sound so exciting? What a great collaboration from these dedicated moms!