Home-Made Portable Classroom Sink

When I was starting my home-based Montessori program I knew I really wanted a child sized sink available for the children to maximize their independence in preparing water lessons (like water color) and other classroom activities.

Installing plumbing into my classroom just was not feasible. I happened to spy an ad in Montessori Life Magazine for portable classroom sinks. I was immediately interested in these types of sinks but they were not affordable for my start-up budget.

My father in law is a skilled woodworker and I asked him to make a single basin portable sink for my classroom. Our sink only provides cold water and our water pump does make a audible humming sound, but the kids are fine with that. I change out the fresh water and empty the drainage/used water daily.  Here is the result:

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My son early on a Saturday morning. 🙂

If you plan to make your own sink, here are some materials you will need to purchase. Please continue to read this whole post, I provided some links to various materials.

  • Wood for cabinet and counter top
  • Formica for exterior of cabinet (optional)
  • Varnish (I vanished the inside of my cabinet to protect the wood from water leaks or spills)
  • Hinges and handles for cabinet doors
  • Stainless steel sink 6″ deep and faucet
  • (2) 5 or 7 gallon jug containers for fresh water and drainage
  • Water pump with an automatic shut-off (most expensive but crucial material)
  • Fittings and tubing to accommodate drain and water pump.

Here are the dimensions of our classroom sink (click on pictures to enlarge):

Total height including cabinet base and counter top.

Total height including cabinet base and counter top.

Your cabinet will need to be large enough to fit the water pump and “drop” of the sink basin as well as,  (2) square 5 gallon or 7 gallon sized containers. One container is for fresh water and the other container is for drainage/used water. We purchased our containers from Target.  The brand is called Aqua-Tainer and the ones we used were food-grade, 7 gallon jugs. However, when posting this blog I found some other possible container options:

http://www.target.com/p/reliance-7-gal-aqua-tainer-blue/-/A-10756926?ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001&AFID=google_pla_df&LNM=10756926&CPNG=Sports&kpid=10756926&LID=14pgs&ci_src=17588969&ci_sku=10756926&kpid=10756926&gclid=CjwKEAiA0O2lBRDOrPX4oJP3t2oSJACjpaHA07vZ4c7RZEX4qe2snuaEzkDiDrF2fr6rTap2NJcHZhoCxKDw_wcB

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-5-Gallon-Water-Carrier-Blue/21156004

http://www.walmart.com/ip/5-gallon-Water-Storage-Jug/41898709

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Dimensions of cabinet side excluding counter top.

Dimensions and top view of counter and sink.

Dimensions and top view of counter top and sink.

The type of sink we used is a stainless steel “bar” sink. The depth of the sink is 6″. You can find these sinks at Lowes and Home Depot. We are bargain hunters so we also checked Craigslist and Ebay for deals on these types of items. Here is a link from Lowes to give you an idea of price and sink dimensions:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_401400-28557-1515-6BS-1_1z0y8pp+2z8vn__?productId=3663820&Ns=p_product_price|0&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_price|0%26page%3D1&facetInfo=$50%20-%20$100

The most expensive part of the sink was the water pump. Here is a link to the types of pump you will need to pump the water from the fresh water container up through the faucet:

Note: This  type of sink only provides cold water. You will need to cap off the hot water connection on the faucet. Otherwise, the water will leak out of the hot water inlet when you turn on the cold water.

http://www.freshwatersystems.com/c-342-aquatec-5800-series-pumps.aspx

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View of water pump and drainage.

Here are some links to suppliers of portable sinks or you can simply Google “portable classroom sink”:

https://www.schooloutfitters.com/catalog/product_info/pfam_id/PFAM11983/products_id/PRO30375?sc_cid=Google_JON-1361JC011&adtype=pla&kw=&CAWELAID=1238968337&CAGPSPN=pla

https://www.strictlyforkidsstore.com/portable-classroom-sinks

If you are creative and resourceful, you may be able to find an existing cabinet and modify it  to suit the needs of your portable sink. Here are some ideas of people taking an old cabinet and transforming it into something wonderful:

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/157063105730494486/

http://mychildisveryadvanced.blogspot.com/2011/10/make-your-own-toys.html

I hope this post was helpful. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fractions!!

We are in our second year of homeschooling our 6 year old son. Today in math we covered fractions. I am AMS credentialed for ages 3 years to 6 years old (pre-k to k). However, I am not trained in Montessori elementary (yet) and so I tailored our lesson to suit our particular needs. I found a wonderful fraction worksheet at www.itsybitsyfun.com to compliment to our lesson.

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From: www.itsybitsyfun.com

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Our son began to make some important discoveries such as 1/6 + 1/6 + 1/6 equals 1/2:

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And 1/4 + 1/4 equals 1/2:

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Here is a video of  our lesson. 🙂 http://youtu.be/919eZCi2rG8

Science/ Geography

In December we covered electrical energy. We started by creating a simple electrical circuit. First, we labeled each part of our circuit. Then, we created a circuit with just a battery and a light bulb. Everyone had a turn to create the circuit.

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Click Photo to Enlarge

IMG_2966IMG_2967Next, we added a switch to our circuit.

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The following day we discussed what objects are conductors of electricity and which are insulators. Each student had a turn to test an object and then we sorted the objects under the proper label.

Additionally in December, we covered the continent of Europe using our Montessori Continent Puzzle Map of Europe and the control chart that accompanies it. We also identified the flags of the many countries that make up Europe. I thought the students would like to take home their own Flags of Europe lesson.  Wonderful pushpin maps and pushpin flags can be downloaded and printed out from www.montessoriprintshop.com. I attached a printed map of Europe to a thin piece of Styrofoam and pre-made the flags of Europe following the instructions at Montessori Print Shop.  I made enough maps and flags for each student to have their own. I will admit though that for this take home lesson I chose flags from only 19 different countries in Europe.

I worked with each child individually, to help them identity each flag and to which country it belongs.

Here is a sample:

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Flags of Europe (Click to Enlarge Photo)

Practical Life and More: December/ Christmas

During the month of December we cover the following topics:

  • The Continent of Europe
  • Flags of Europe
  • Christmas
  • Chanukah ( We actually covered Chanukah in November because the holiday began in November this year.
  • Kwanza
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Electrical energy
  • Energy: conductor/insulator
Pom Pom Transfer w/ Treezers

Pom Pom Transfer w/ Tweezers

Ornament Transfer w/ Tongs

Ornament Transfer w/ Tongs

Four Cup Pouring

Four Cup Pouring

Bell Spooning

Bell Spooning

Cream Cheese Spreading Lesson

Cream Cheese Spreading Lesson

I made three felt Christmas “puzzles” using stiff felt. I had photos of the completed puzzles so that the children would know how to put the pieces together. Here are some photos of them:

Felt Christmas Tree

Felt Christmas Tree

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Felt Reindeer

Felt Reindeer

Felt Santa

Felt Santa

Christmas Season Stamping

Christmas Season Stamping

The kids enjoyed making their own candy canes and wreaths with pipe cleaners and beads. I put the candy canes out the first week and then the wreath lesson out the following week.

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Also in art I created a reindeer craft for the class. I usually do this for each theme. I cut out simple shapes that they can glue to a sheet of construction paper. I laminate a sample of my own work to help guide them on how to arrange the shapes to form the desired picture.

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Reindeer Craft from 2 Students

When we change themes, I also change out the play dough colors and utensils. During Halloween we had black play dough and black pipe cleaners, googly eyes and various other materials so that the kids could make spiders and monsters. During Christmas we had holiday cookie cutters.

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I also change out a few lessons in math. Particularly the one to one correspondence lessons and the simple addition problems.

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Calendar: Shelf Work

I love this wooden calendar from Hello Wood.  I use Microsoft Word to print out the current  month’s calendar. Then a student can use the print out to help them place the tiles on the wooden calendar. Afterward, we will “read” their work together. They begin by counting the days in that particular month. They will do this lesson twice in a given month. The first time, they are only placing the tiles on the calendar. The second time they will also write the number on a blank (or number dotted) calendar in addition to putting the tiles in place. I got this idea from the lead teacher that I interned under while I was earning my Montessori certification. This is shelf work and it is different from the calendar we use for our daily “jobs.”

Wooden Calendar from Hello Wood

Wooden Calendar from Hello Wood: Click the picture to enlarge

Practical Life and More: Fall

In November we began studying fall related themes such as:

  • Scarecrows
  • Thanksgiving
  • Native Americans

We also cover the United States, USA landmarks, the American flag, volcanoes, the digestive system and the artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

Here are some photos of lessons and shelf work that related to our fall theme:

Fall Leaf Clothespins

Fall Leaf Clothespins

Transfer Lesson: Spooning Leaves

Transfer Lesson: Spooning Leaves

Acorn Transfer Lesson

Acorn Transfer Lesson

Basting Lesson

Basting Lesson

We used the peanuts from the peanut shelling lesson and the corn kernels from the tweezing corn kernel lesson to feed the squirrels outside the classroom.

Shelling Peanuts (Caution: Allergies)

Shelling Peanuts (Caution: Allergies)

Tweezing Corn Kernels

Tweezing Corn Kernels

Sifting Lesson

Sifting Lesson

Pumpkin Sorting

Pumpkin Sorting

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I found this idea for a pumpkin scrubbing lesson at http://www.justmontessori.com

Pumpkin Washing

Pumpkin Washing

Fall Stamping

Fall Stamping

Peanut Butter Spreading (Caution: Allergies)

Peanut Butter Spreading (Caution: Allergies)

USA Floor Puzzle

USA Floor Puzzle

Scarecrow Gluing (Found at http://kidssoup.com)

Scarecrow Gluing (Found at http://kidssoup.com)

Lincoln Log Cabin

Lincoln Log Cabin

When we cover the United States, we also talked about the American flag. We discuss what the stars represent and why there are 50 of them on our flag. We also talked about why our flag has 13 stripes. Montessori for Everyone has great Parts of a Flag cards and we use them for our lesson and then the kids can create their own Parts of a Flag Booklet.

Parts of a Flag

Parts of a Flag

 

Practical Life and More: Halloween

The week prior to Halloween and the week of Halloween, I planned lessons that I felt would go well with the holiday. Some of the topics we covered were:

  • The Human Skeleton
  • Bats
  • Owls
  • The Scream by Edvard Munch

During that time we were also covering: The life cycle of a pumpkin, seasons, leaves and Mexico.

Here are some photos of lessons as well as shelf work during our Halloween themed studies:

     
Parts of a Human Skeleton Booklet.  You can find these at www.montessoriprintshop.com and I beleive Montessori Services sells it too.

Parts of a Human Skeleton Booklet. You can find these at http://www.montessoriprintshop.com and I believe Montessori Services sells it too.

I found this lesson at http://justmontessori.com and had my husband make a clothes line for me. I found these glow-in-the-dark bats at Target.

Clothespins and Bats

Clothespins and Bats

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Skeleton Transfer w/ Clip

Skeleton Transfer w/ Clip

Eye Dropper and Sun Catcher Transfer Lesson

Eye Dropper and Sun Catcher Transfer Lesson

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Water Color from http://ireallylovecats.com/halloween-cat-2-coloring-page.html

Halloween Stamping

Halloween Stamping

I purchased Halloween erasers and these little pumpkin buckets to create a fun sorting lesson for the class.

Sorting

Sorting

Skeleton and Bead Stringing Lesson

Skeleton and Bead Stringing Lesson

When we covered the Life Cycle of a Pumpkin we read: Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie  by Jill Esbaum and  Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell.  Montessori for Everyone has beautiful Life Cycle of a Pumpkin matching cards. I also found this craft that the kids loved: http://printables.atozteacherstuff.com/375/pumpkin-pumpkin-sequencing-activity/

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During our Halloween theme the artist and painting that seemed fitting to cover was The Scream by Edvard Munch. We then gave it a shot at creating our own Scream painting. I got us started by sketching out our painting. The boys got started on painting the sunset sky and the water. I painted the railing of the boardwalk while the boys continued on the sky and water. Toby began helping me with the boardwalk. He also painted the figures that appear in the distance.

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I made  Jack-O-Lantern lesson out of felt. I cut various shapes for eyes, nose, and mouth and different shaped stems. I had photo cards for each different “face” the kids could create. Here are some samples:

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Felt Jack-o-Lantern Face

Felt Jack-o-Lantern Face

Felt Jack-o-Lantern Face

Felt Jack-o-Lantern Face

Felt Jack-o-Lantern Face

Felt Jack-o-Lantern Face

Felt Jack-o-Lantern Face

I like when the kids find new and creative ways to use the Montessori metal insets. I created my own Metal Inset Halloween Booklet using the shapes to create “spooky” drawings. At first, I was hesitant to have the kids copy my book because I didn’t want them to compare my artwork with their own or get discouraged if theirs didn’t turn out exactly like mine. This wasn’t an issue though and it was a fun lesson. My drawings are the ones on the left and my son’s (He’s 5 yr. old) are the ones on the right.

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My son was so inspired by this lesson that in the days that followed he continued to make his own metal inset monster books.

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Pracitcal Life: Fish and Ocean Study & Amphibian Study

This year has been very busy. I have been wanting to post photos of some shelf lessons in practical life and haven’t had a chance until now. As I’ve stated before, I change out all the lessons in practical life every three weeks as the theme that we are studying changes. I feel that this is important because it offers the children a chance to practice new skills and it enhances the theme we are studying. Here are some photos from our fish and ocean study.

Water Transfer w/ Eye Dropper

Water Transfer w/ Eye Dropper

Seashell and Water Straining

Seashell and Water Straining

Sea Animals Transfer w/ Tweezers

Sea Animals Transfer w/ Tweezers

Seashell Transfer

Seashell Transfer

Sponging Lesson

Sponging Lesson

I was preparing to store the lesson of the sun catcher (below). The eye dropper bottles in the photo are empty. I usually have them filled with colored water and the children can decorate the sun catcher fish. This is a popular lesson.

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Sun Catcher and Eye Dropper Lesson

Sponge Fish and Garlic Press Lesson

Sponge Fish and Garlic Press Lesson

When we cover amphibians we focus on:

  • Amphibians overview
  • Differences between toads and frogs
  • Salamanders and newts
  • Differences between salamanders and lizards

During this time we also cover:

  • Intro to art
  • Roots
  • Stems
  • North America
  • Canada
Sponging

Sponging

Fly Transfer w/ Tweezers

Fly Transfer w/ Tweezers

From http://www.2teachingmommies.com

Downloaded pdf from http://www.2teachingmommies.com

I found this pdf download from http://.www.2teachingmommies.com and thought it would make a great Life Cycle of a Frog gluing lesson in art.

Downloaded from http://www.2teachingmommies.com

Downloaded from http://www.2teachingmommies.com

Some of the books we enjoy during our amphibians study are Little Tad Grows Up, by Giuliano Ferr and 999 Tadpoles by Ken Kimura.

 

Florida Theme: Summer Session

We wrapped up our first week of summer session 2 (the summer sessions are held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) Our theme for this session is the state we live in: Florida. My initial plan was to talk about plants and animals in that live in Florida, but I realized that was a bit too broad. I decided to spend the first week talking about how to locate Florida on a map, the different land forms associated with Florida (peninsula, gulf, lake, island) and the differences in salt water and fresh water. For the weeks that follow we would discuss common animals and plants found living around salt water and those living near bodies of fresh water. We will also spend time talking about land animals, the different types of palm trees and hurricanes.

Here are a few links to my videos on YouTube, describing the lessons that I presented during our first week of the summer session.

Part 1: http://youtu.be/oSlB4XzEOjg

Part 2: http://youtu.be/u6fDFNuTnLk

 

Sink the Boat: Practical Life Lesson

As part of my Montessori internship I was required to chose a theme or topic to present to the children over the course of a three week period. This assignment was know as, “the year end project.” This project included circle (or group) time activities, songs, books, etc., as well as shelf lessons for all areas of the classroom. The theme for my year end project was transportation.

One shelf lesson that I created for practical life was particularly popular with the children. I called it the “Sink the Boat” lesson. I felt that this lesson complimented our transportation theme as well as the sink and float experiments that are part of the Montessori science curriculum. This lesson also combines skills such as tweezing (fine motor) and straining.

Here is a picture of the shelf lesson:

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Here is my write-up on how to present this lesson. Please remember that this is my original write-up and to my knowledge, my own unique idea (although I have seen a variation of it elsewhere) :

Sink the Boat

Transfer Using Tweezers

Materials:

  1. One bowl (filled with water to “fill” line)
  2. One small condiment cup filled with shells
  3. One small, shallow boat
  4. Tweezers
  5. Small strainer
  6. Small sponge
  7. Small hand towel
  8. Tray

Invitation: “I would like to give you a lesson in the practical life area. I am going to give you a lesson on transferring shells with tweezers.”

Presentation:

  1. Select a mat and place it on table.
  2. Select the lesson from the shelf and carry it to the table.
  3. Remove the small hand towel from the tray and place it on mat.
  4. Pick up tweezers with your dominate hand.
  5. Using the tweezers, select one shell from the condiment cup and place the shell into the boat.
  6. Using the tweezers, continue to pick up shells, one at a time, until the boat floating in the bowl of water sinks to the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Once the boat has sunk, place tweezers on the tray to the right of the condiment cup.
  8. Reach your hand into the bowl of water and carefully remove the boat (be sure not to spill the shells) and place the boat on the sponge that is located on your tray.
  9. You may dry your hands on the small hand towel that you placed on your mat earlier. After drying your hands, place the towel back on the mat for the time being.
  10. Pick up the strainer with your dominate hand and place it over the bowl of water (The strainer handle should rest on one side of the bowl and the curved tip of the strainer should rest of the opposite side of the bowl so that that strainer remains in place on its own).
  11. Pick up the boat that has been resting on the sponge and gently pour the shells from the boat into the strainer.
  12. Place the boat back onto the sponge.
  13. With your dominate hand, grab the handle of the strainer and pour the shells back into the condiment cup (Place two fingers from your sub-dominate hand near the rim of strainer to help steady the strainer as you pour.
  14. Return the strainer to the tray.
  15. Pick up the boat that has been resting on the sponge and carefully return it to the bowl of water.
  16. If there are any splashes of water on mat or table, use the small hand towel to gently wipe up the spills.
  17. Stand up, push in your chair and toss the small hand towel in laundry basket.
  18. Replenish lesson by getting a new hand towel and place it on tray above the sponge.
  19. Return lesson to the shelf and put away mat.

Note: If at any time there is water in the boat, you may strain out the shells as indicated above and use the small hand towel to dry out the boat.

Control of Error:

  1. Shells in bowl of water instead of inside the boat.
  2. Shells spilled on table or surrounding area.

Points of Interest:

  1. The sound of shells dropping into the boat.
  2. Watching the boat sink.
  3. The sound of pouring the shells into the strainer.
  4. The sound of pouring the shells back into the condiment cup.
  5. The strainer itself.
  6. The water itself.

Objectives:

 Direct

  1. Develop coordination, order, concentration and independence.
  2. Development of self-esteem and confidence.
  3. Develop hand/eye coordination.
  4. Development of the pincer grasp.

Indirect

  1. Develop the ability to use a pair of tweezers.
  2. Develop the ability to use a strainer.

Variations:

  1. Change the size of the boat.
  2. Use a strawberry huller instead of tweezers.
  3. Change the type of material uses to sink the boat (instead of shells use beads or marbles).