Cinderella is the perfect Disney movie to use as inspiration for a Montessori-inspired Disney unit study.
Not only does it have a vibrant cultural aspect (with many cultures having their own version of the Cinderella tale), it also features Cinderella and her mice friends engaging in many practical life activities and offers many opportunities for building emotional intelligence.
Funny enough, we haven’t seen the new Cinderella movie yet. The current obsession that is gripping my household is completely based on the original Disney 1950 cartoon version. I love the Rogers & Hammerstein version and have been playing the soundtrack for the kids this past week.
Gross Motor: Balancing and Walking the Line
We decided to do this Cinderella unit study after Ella spent the better part of a day walking up and down the hallway balancing plastic Ikea plates on her head and hands, just like Cinderella did while delivering breakfast to her sisters in the morning.
This is a great balancing activity, and you can add an extra challenge by having children balance the plates while attempting to walk in a straight line (set out for them with chalk or tape).
Montessori Math: Gem (Spindle) Box
This is my go-to unit study substitution. I love replacing the spindle box items with something representing whatever unit study we are engaging in. For Cinderella, I used these plastic gems leftover from our Frozen tea party.
Math: How Many Minutes To Midnight?
This was a very challenging activity that I did with Ella, who has just learned how to read time. She has become very fascinated recently with “how many minutes” until she can do something, so I drew a bunch of clocks for her (using our Montessori metal insets to trace) with various times and we had to figure out how many minutes between the clock’s displayed time and midnight. (I wrote the answer on the back for her to check her work.)
You could alternatively use this awesome clock which we used during our Hickory Dickory Dock: Learn to Tell Time unit (which I’ll share soon!)
Montessori Sensorial: Knobless Cylinders
I gave a special extensions lesson with only our blue and yellow knobless cylinders — the colours I associate most with the Cinderella movie (and branding).
It was also the first time that one of the children had been taught that the knobless cylinders correspond to the knobbed cylinders, so that was a really big concept for them to explore together… until one of the yellow knobless got stuck in the wrong cylinder block. (Knowing this, I am changing my Sensorial Materials review, as they shouldn’t get stuck.)
I hesitated to do this mice craft, but I couldn’t figure out another Cinderella craft without a pumpkin, so I went for it — and I’m so glad that I did! I worried that it wasn’t open-ended enough, but the kids still brought their own interpretations to the craft.
Materials we used for our Mice craft:
Fairy Godmother Wand
This craft could either be an Elsa wand, or a Fairy Godmother wand. I actually set it out during our Frozen tea party, but we didn’t get to finishing them until this week.
Materials we used for our Fairy Godmother Wands:
- Star shaped Wooden Craft Sticks
- Pearl Beads
- Glitter Paint
- Pastel-coloured ribbon
- Clear glue
- Thick-handled paint brushes
- Sturdy lunch-style trays
I just set out all of the materials for the craft on our awesome plastic craft trays and let the kids decorate their wands however they wanted. They kept coming back to this craft, adding new layers and elements to their work, so as much as it may seem like a simple craft, they were really able to build upon and engage with it.
Montessori Practical Life: Sweeping
Any chores that Cinderella did in the movie would be great to engage the children and teach them a new skill:
Montessori Practical Life: Polishing Glass
The kids loved this complete mirror polishing set from Montessori Services, and as a special treat I set it out with our decorative glass pumpkin. (If I didn’t already own that, I would have loved to have ordered this real crystal slipper to have offered a “Glass Slipper Polishing” activity. It’s a steal!)
Montessori Practical Life: Dressing Frames
The kids have been neglecting the dressing frames for the past few months, so I thought I’d try to renew interest by including the bow tying frame, which looks very Cinderella-inspired to me! I purchased my dressing frames, but you can also DIY them!
Montessori Practical Life: Lacing
The mice sew Cinderella’s dress and it would be wonderful to engage the children in a long-term project of making an elaborate dress or dress sculpture. This week, we worked on our lacing cards and some of the kids had fun trying to sing the mice’s working song while doing their work. (Very hard to do!)
Cinderella Around the World
We read several multicultural children’s book versions of the Cinderella tale throughout the week and pointed out where the countries were on our Montessori globes.
Eat Like Cinderella
Because the version the children are most familiar with is the French version, and our dear French girl was leaving this week, we went with a few French-inspired lunches that the children helped prepare. The biggest hits were a simple quiche, tuna on croissant sandwiches, and our croissant bread pudding.
We’re also going to try to make Madeline cookies or macarons this weekend (I have more hope for the Madelines working out!)
We had so much fun with our Cinderella unit study, as part of our series of Disney preschool lesson plans and activities. Which Disney movie would you like to see us explore in our next Disney unit study?
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