So far in our “sss is for sounds” series for Montessori Preschool we’ve focused on the letter sounds for a (“ah” is for ants), i (“ih” is for insects), s (“sss” is for snakes), and t (“tuh” is for tennis). I wanted to add a third consonant sound this week so we could build some simple cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) words next week. We originally had a different plan for this week, but a field trip that we were planning to help explore the “nnn” sound had to be postponed, so I decided to wing it with the letter sound “mmm” is for muffins. (Or really, anything yummmy could work!)
My goal with all of these “sss is for sounds” mini-units is to make them easy and accessible, using mainly materials that you likely already have on hand, and offering enough activity ideas that you can pick and choose based on what you have — and if you do need to buy something to do an activity, I’ve tried to pick items that are versatile enough to be used over and over in different ways.
With “mmm” is for muffins, we started off the day making a double batch of blueberry muffins. There are so many practical life skills and learning opportunities in baking with kids, which I go into more detail about in our Little Chef: Kids’ Kitchen section, not to mention how much fun it is and how proud children are of their final creations!
While the muffins baked, I brought out the “m” sandpaper letter and had the children trace over it while making the “mmm” sound; the children who didn’t have the letter, I encouraged to rub their bellies while making the sound to create a semantic association with the letter sound (phoneme).
I had the kids decorate a muffins for sale poster, and had Mr. R (6years) prepare a simple “muffin graph” to help the children keep track of their muffin consumption… or sales! I started singing the “Muffin Man” song as we all tinkered (me in the kitchen, them with their poster) and they all joined in.
Our cardboard Ikea market stand has been sitting in a closet for a while, so the kids were thrilled to see it back out. I also brought out our Learning Resources’ cash register, and told the kids that we were going to be muffin sellers and this was our muffin stand. We go to farmer’s markets often, so Ella naturally had to accessorize with a straw hat like she sees many of the merchants wearing.
I didn’t guide their play, so it was fun to see how they interpreted and recreated their muffin stand throughout the day. The first engagement with the market stand only lasted about 20 minutes, but each time that they visited it, their play extended — and so did the learning. At first they just ate muffins and pushed the buttons on the cash register, but eventually they started trying to trade other goods for the muffins, counted the coins, created new shopper “personalities,” and started tracking their muffin sales with the muffin graph.
I personally am not a huge fan of crafts, but I am trying to incorporate them more, designing ones that are open-ended so the kids aren’t striving for one, uniform result. I originally just planned on putting an “m” outline on brown construction paper and putting out blue bingo dabbers (“blueberries”), and then I remembered our Costco-sized, giant package of coffee filters and thought those could make cute “muffin liners.” I added those, along with scissors and glue sticks to our art set-up and the kids all came up with their own interpretation of the materials. (And guess which child insisted on a “real” muffin liner rather than the coffee filter…)
I served lunch in the cute silicon muffin cups that we used for baking the muffins. We could have also had savoury muffins (or a food shaped into a muffin).
We were also supposed to have a younger child join us in the afternoon, so I put together this rice-based sensory bin with blueberry pom poms, a “spent” vanilla bean pod, cinnamon sticks, a lemon, silicon muffin cups, and a mini-muffin tray. With any sensory bin, I have the children wash their hands beforehand, and I use a handheld UV-light to disinfect the bin afterward, so we can play with the same materials over and over.
If you really wanted to extend the unit, you could:
- make paper “muffins” and count out blueberry pom poms (kind of like a muffin spindle box)
- read “If You Give a Moose a Muffin“
- visit a grain mill or blueberry patch
- use smell bottles for all of the different scents that you baked with
- make muffin play dough or cloud dough — a cinnamon batch would work perfectly
- instead of real muffins, use these wooden Melissa and Doug ones and keep the muffin shop set-up longer
I hope you like the idea of eating muffins more than the bug candy and cookies we shared last week!
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Which letter do you think we should explore next?