Tag Archives: Fun at home

Lots of research has been published that shows why music is fundamental in early childhood education. Music is just as important to problem solving and logical skill development as math and language. Musical intelligence has been elevated by research. That makes me so happy because, well, music is fun and blends in well with play based learning and sensory exercises and language acquisition.

Here is an easy activity and tool you can use at home that is not only enjoyable for you and your child but will help the developing mind, specifically self-regulation. These musical beat cards were a gift from a Montessori instructor, so please use them for personal reasons only.  The activity is quite simple to present and there’s lots of room for variation.

Here is how it works: On each card there are the number 1 to 4. Also included on the cards are red vertical lines below the numbers. When a number has a red line below, this indicates that there is a change. For example, you could simply use your voice by saying the numbers without a line and keeping silent on the numbers that have a red line. Make sense?

At Sponge right now, your kids are having  fun with music in our concert unit.   They have been learning language that can easily be integrated into this exercise. Please refer to your take home  handouts for the vocabulary below in your child’s specific language.

  1. Count – practice numbers in language
  2. Quiet and Loud – when there is a red line raise your voice when saying the number and be quiet when there isn’t a line
  3. Guitar and Drums – when there is a red line play the guitar (real or pretend) and when there is not a red line, play the drums
  4. Piano and Shakers – switch instruments, when there is a red line play the piano (real or pretend) and the shakers when there is not
  5. Clapping Hands and Stomping Feet – when there is a red line, clap your hands and stomp your feet when there is not
  6. Dance and Be Still – when there is a red line dance and when there isn’t a line, be still
  7. Take Turns –  one person claps their hands on the red line and one remains silent, then switch

Have a wonderful time playing with music and language together this month!

We’re going on a pretend trip this month at Sponge, and having loads of fun learning language around travel.   We’re learning language for what to pack and how we get there. Marnie has some great suggestions on other ways to extend the ‘travel plans’ at home.

Exposing children to world culture doesn’t have to mean getting on a plane and visiting other countries. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could transport ourselves so easily? That travel will come over a lifetime. So, in the meantime, here are a few ways we’ve found to Travel Around the World from our home. Enjoy!

World Monuments

Safari Around the World Toob is beautiful (see above image). The detail is extraordinary and is sure to capture a child’s eye. We use these replicas with Rand McNally’s set of world landmark cards and our eeBoo world map. I set the cards out in a basket with the world monuments and my son natural finds the matching card. Then we seek the monument on the world map. It’s hands on and requires moving around the room, all great for a young child’s development.


Again, using Safari’s figures we match up animals to their home habitat around the world.  Montessori Print Shop has the perfect “Animals of the Continents” download for this activity. You can use figurines and cards, or both, to make this trip around the world happen.


We used two wonderful items for this activity. One is a fantastic set of already laminated cards I purchased for $10 from EBay. This shop has many great “world culture” education sets. I highly recommend them!

We also used our I Never Forget A Face Memory Game


We’re just getting start with this activity. So far, for my 3 year old, simply listening to the different languages from around the world is perfect. At some point I hope to transition this activity into a Listening Activity that requires a blindfold or simply using your ears to do the work. The website we used to hear several language sound bites in one spot is called Audio-Lingua. There are sound bites from native speakers. For us, it was fun to listen to the languages and then take a look at the map to see the countries in which the people speak the particular language. I can see this activity becoming a very good listening activity later on.

I hope you found some inspiration in these ideas.

Thank you for choosing to read this post.

I am very excited that Marnie will be writing for us on a regular basis.  She’s not only a mom to 2 young boys in our program, she’s also passionate about education, kids, and the world!  She has lots of great ideas to share about extending the language learning from class to home. Welcome Marnie!


As we all gear up for the sometimes overwhelming start of a new school year and our fall language classes at Sponge, I thought I’d introduce an easy and simple way to bring culture and language into your home: A Language and Culture Basket. Making time outside weekly language classes is tough in all our busy lives. Finding ways to bring the learning into the home is important. As much as we would like to attend ten hours of Sponge classes each week, that won’t happen for most of us for a lot of reasons. So, supplementing the classes in your home and community is a good idea.

My parenting approach, generally, is to create an environment for my children (ages 3 and 1.5) that fosters independence and self directed learning. So we have lots of learning around our home from maps on the wall to kitchen utensils within our boys’ reach to a dressing basket to help with day time and night tome dressing. A Language and Culture Basket is one way to peak your child’s interest and curiosity in the world and language without overwhelming them. If you build it, they will come, right? Have faith, parents, the learning will happen.

In our home, we have a Reading Corner in our Play & Learning space. Within that space we created the Language and Culture Basket to bring in global perspective and exposure to second language, in our case, specifically, Mandarin. By presenting a variety of fictional and non-fictional children’s books in this basket we hope to introduce tradition and culture from all over the world.


  • Mix it up – We focus on Mandarin but bring in other languages and culture, especially when a big holiday within that culture, like Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, for example, is within that month.
  • Rotate – I visit the library often and rotate books to keep it interesting for my children.
  • Less is More – Choose a medium sized basket and fill it. Don’t pile in the books, add a few at a time, all visible to the child at first glance on the basket.



Our basket is situated in the play area, next to a bookshelf, rocking chair and another small sitting chair not too far from our maps. The basket includes several books geared towards teaching kids Mandarin, a Chinese nursery rhyme book, National Geographic World Atlas for Kids, Toot & Puddle’s Top of the World book, Gordon & Lili’s sweet Mandarin books, a guide book that accompanied an education Mandarin DVD and an extensive Chinese vocabulary book.

Amazon and our local libraries have excellent resources and search for children’s books from all around and about the world. I will be sharing a few of our favorites along the way. Here area few to get you started on your language and culture basket. So simple. You have to do it.

The Pet Dragon: A Story about Adventure, Friendship, and Chinese Characters

Chinese and English Nursery Rhymes: Share and Sing in Two Languages

Un Deux Trois: First French Rhymes

The Cat in the Hat in French

La Oruga Muy Hambireienta

Crumbs on the Stairs – Migas en las escaleras: A Mystery in English & Spanish

A Pair of Red Clogs

Grandfather’s Journey

Thanks for choosing to read this post today.

More soon…

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Marnie writes Carrots Are Orange, a blog she started in 2010 after the birth of her first son. She hails from Maine, a wonderfully down to earth place to grow up. Marnie moved to the west coast in 1999, currently living in Seattle with her husband and two young boys. She is pursuing Montessori certification. Marnie can be found on Facebook, Twitter @orangercarrots, Pinterest and Google +.