Pumpkins are everywhere right now!

This week we offered pumpkin painting.  (They had washed all of these last week in the washing work.)
Each year we go to the Farmer’s Market and buy small pumpkins for the children.


We set out several colors for the children to use.


One child wanted a smile face.  He had been thinking about it for a while.


We also had out large pumpkin washing.  This is a wonderful multistep activity.


We also used a pool noodle to make pumpkin prints.

Michigan! Oh the Mackinac Bridge!

In our final weeks of the school year, we like to study our state of Michigan.


We created a sandpaper Michigan to feel.


Many children liked to complete a crayon rubbing.


They hold the crayon sideways and rub.  Michigan shows up!


We also taught the children about the five great lakes.

They used a watercolor crayon and colored in the lakes.


The children then painted the crayon with water and a paintbrush.

One of our families headed north for a weekend in the spring and brought us back some fudge to sample.


Oh The Mackinac Bridge!  Many parents have heard this song in the last few weeks!  Some families will be heading “up north”  to explore our state and may pass over the Mackinac Bridge.  The children loved learning and singing this song.  Click on the link to listen.

For visitors to our blog who don’t know about the bridge, here is a link to some information:

We hope you all have a great summer and get a chance to head “Up North” and see the mighty fine bridge!


Each year we order caterpillars so the children can watch them transform into butterflies.


They come in a container with food already on the bottom.  Not exactly natural but somehow it works.


They spend the next few days eating… and pooping.  The children watch them get bigger each day.


Then, they form into chrysalides.  They attach to the top of the jar where there is a thin piece of paper.  We take this out and pin it to the inside of a habitat.


During this process, we talk to the children about the lifecycle of the butterfly.


We also offer a fun art project.  Here they see the four phases and can make them with pasta and beans.


Then one morning when we came into school, two hatched!  We let the children discover this on their own.


At first the butterflies don’t move much.  They sit still then slowly start moving their wings.


It is fascinating to watch these creatures move and fly about when a week and a half ago they were tiny caterpillars!


Finally, we let them go!



Planets & Journey Through the Solar System


The children have had a great time learning about our solar system.  We have many hands-on models, books and activities.  We sing songs and alter our birthday song (“The Earth orbits the sun, the Earth orbits the sun, it takes 365 days, the Earth orbits the sun.”) to include the other planets to learn how long their orbits were around the sun.


Some children chose to make their own book to take home.


Some children used liquid starch to make a Jupiter with the 300 year old storm.


Some colored the planets with their moons on paper.


In Friday afternoon art, the children looked at the planets.


Using a coffee filter, markers and drops of water, the children create their own planets.




The children also took turns being different planets orbiting the sun.  Our dear friends Kathy and Cesar, astronomers from Venezuela, made these models for us two years ago when their daughter attended AACH.  At that time we stretched out across a grassy area to have an understanding of how far away the planets were from each other and also their size.  We are so fortunate to hear of a project here in Ann Arbor this weekend.  This will stretch several miles so if you go, be prepared to travel the distance.  This will be an amazing exhibit.  Information is below:

Journey Through The Solar System!

Bring your bike, scooter or walking shoes and traverse the solar system from the Sun to Neptune! This exhibit features a model of the solar system, scaled to size and distance, along with awesome images and information at each station.

The amazing voyage begins at Mitchell Field and stops near Dixboro Dam, but does not end. A cosmic perspective will be gained along the way and further exploration is inevitable. This is a great opportunity to truly appreciate and understand the incredible distances of our tiny corner of the Universe. Exhibit is open at Gallup Park from 9:00am to 7:00pm, May 31 – June 1. Rain dates are June 7-8.

Continue the journey: Check out the Planetarium page on the website of the U-M Museum of Natural History for solar system-related programming coming in June!


Map Gallup Park, 3000 Fuller Road, Ann Arbor, United States

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Earth Day- making paper, worms, alternative energy

For Earth Day we focused on many topics related to celebrating the Earth and keeping our planet healthy.


We talked about Solar Energy!  Thanks to Brian for bringing in a solar panel and telling us how it works.  The children all tried to pick it up and realized how heavy it was.  Brian inspired us to look for solar panels in our community and report back to him.  (Thanks Brian for coming in!)


We ordered a small solar panel to take outside and show how it creates energy to make something work.  In this case it was a small fan.  See below for a movie clip.  We used this on the one sunny day last week.  (We also have tiny solar cars but have been unable to use at this point due to the lack of sun.)

Mini Solar Panel


We made bracelets out of solar beads.  The children chose regular pony beads and the white solar beads.  When we took them outside, they changed colors!  BEFORE is above and AFTER is below.


We talked about wind energy one afternoon.  The children made pinwheels and watched them turn with the wind.


The children made paper in class for several days.  First rip paper scraps into small pieces.


Put in a blender with a small amount of water.


Pour the pulp through a metal screen into a can.


Place another metal screen on top and press down with a sponge.


Lift up to reveal the paper.


It needs to dry on the drying rack so we placed on small paper plates.  (We re-used these!)




The children have been interested in worms lately.  We talked about how they are good for the soil and for growing plants.


Some children wanted to make parts of a worm book to take home.


The children have been spending a lot of time digging up worms on the playground and relocating them to the garden.


Happy Earth Day!





The children spent several weeks focusing on the large continent of Africa.  We always look closely at the beautiful Montessori continent maps but we also focused on sights and sounds of the continent.





First up, we studied ancient Egypt.  The children made cat masks, colored various pages and some of the afternoon children made small pyramids.  We read many books and looked at models of artifacts one might find there.


africa 5

We also made African collars inspired by Kenya and Tanzania.

To present some of the sounds of Africa, we asked Lori from Drummunity to join us.  (Her website:

What a fabulous time!

africa 2

We looked at some batik materials and clothing.

africa 3

She brought out some of her African instruments.

africa 4

The music began!

First up was the Gyil.  This instrument has wooden slats and is over calabash gourds.  This instrument comes from Ghana, Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast.  Here is a movie:

africa movie 3


We also saw and listened to many types of drums including the bougarabou and djembe.  africa movie1

The children loved to play! Click here to see:   africa movie 4



Finally, we all sang the beautiful song:

africa movie2

Funga Alafia
 -Western African Greeting Song

Funga alafia,
ah-shay ah-shay.

Funga alafia,
ah-shay ah-shay.

Ah-shay ah-shay.
Ah-shay, ah-shay.

With my heart I welcome you.
Ah-shay ah-shay.

With my mind I welcome you.
Ah-shay ah-shay.

With my voice I welcome you.
Ah-shay ah-shay.

Nothing up my sleeves, you see.
Ah-shay ah-shay.
Funga alafia,
ah-shay ah-shay.

Funga alafia,
ah-shay ah-shay.

Ah-shay ah-shay.
Ah-shay, ah-shay.

Happy Valentine’s Day

card making 2

Happy Valentine’s Day!  We like to celebrate this holiday as it is not too overwhelming to children and it is very sweet!  This year we wanted to talk about mail and how it moves to get from one place to the other.  We decided it was a perfect time to make Valentine cards for our families.  We have a card making work on our shelves so the children were familiar with this activity.  First, they decorate the white paper with a stamp roller (to create a border) and various Valentine stamps.  They then glue into red cardstock.  Some of the children cut out a white heart and glued it on the front.

Mailing card

We then had the children put the cards in a red envelope.


We worked with the children to address their envelopes.  Long ago we bought a book about the Postal System and how it works.  Here is a link:  With email and other ways to communicate, many children do not know about addresses, zip codes, stamps and the postal system.  Many of the children were excited to see their special Valentine come in the mail in a few days!

heart pillow

We sewed heart pillows!  Many of the children are proficient sewers, especially with the whip stitch, and can do this almost independently.


We also made Valentine bags.

V bags

The children are excited to take the bags home and see what was inside.  There were many homemade Valentines and almost all had written their own names.

V Day Coffee

Yesterday the children made heart shaped scones to serve this morning at the parent coffee.  They were so happy to see their parents enjoying the scones.  Thank you to all of the parents who were able to stop by!

Finally, our amazing and extremely talented music teacher taught the children this song:

Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Color Mixing

One of the favorite activities each year is color mixing!

The children love to see what happens when they put droplets of colored-water down, mix and soak up with a paper towel.


Everyone is able to complete this work!


Once they put all of the drops down, they mix together with a little toothpick.


Slowly and carefully they put a paper towel down.  The colors quickly absorb and once they pick it up…


Voila!  Beautiful!









We have had a lot of fun for the past few weeks learning about pumpkins.  We first dissected a pumpkin and learned about all of the different parts.

pumpkin dissection

Some children chose to make a parts of the pumpkin book to take home!

pumpkin- parts

One child roasted pumpkin seeds at home with her mom and brought them in for us to taste!

pumpkin seeds

On Halloween, we decided to have our own special time by carving a jack-o-lantern.

pumpkin carving

We used the pumpkin we had dissected and some spices we ground in class to make tiny pumpkin pies for the whole class! They enjoyed making and rolling out the crust, cutting out the shapes and mixing up the filling!  Everyone tasted a mini pumpkin pie while we sat around our carved jack-o-lantern.

pumpkin pies

We also found tiny pumpkins to paint!  The backpacks weighed a little more than they normally do today!

pumpkin painting

Overall, we learned so much about pumpkins!  We integrated them into many of our activities!



Butterfly work

Butterfly Painting 1
This week we began studying butterflies. We ordered caterpillars and watched them munch away at their special food. We offered a painting work to show that butterfly wings are (mostly) symmetrical. The child paints one side, lightly pushes it down with their hand and unfolds.

Butterfly Painting 2

Voila, a mostly symmetrical butterfly!

Butterfly Paper Plate

We then offered a life cycle work. The child glues various pasta and leaves on the plate to show the egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly phases.