Let’s learn about toucans! Use these Montessori toucan theme activities to create an engaging collection of work that will draw in your students. They are perfect for a Montessori primary classroom. Use this as part of your South America theme or add to your zoology shelves.
Toucans are beautiful animals that can be found in Central and South America. Did you know that when toucans sleep, they turn their heads around and rest their beaks on their backs?
Types of Toucans
Introduce your children to toucans with a set of 3-part cards.
Toucanets vs Toucans
Do you know the difference between toucans and toucanets?
Though these related birds are similar, there are a few main differences between them.
All toucanets have shorter bills than their Toucan cousins. Toucanets also have smaller bodies. Adult Toucanets grow to 10-14 inches. An adult Toucan’s body grows to about 24 inches. Toucanets have mostly green feathers, while Toucans have mostly black feathers.
Both birds have an interesting ability to flip their tails forward over their heads to protect their large bills while they sleep. This makes it look like they sleep rolled into a ball on their back. It allows flocks of about 6 birds to all pile into a shared nest in a hollow tree.
For older children, you can add the information cards provided. These cards feature some interesting facts about each bird, their conservation status, and a map where the birds can be found.
Where do I live?
Next, you children can map where each toucan is found.
Use the information cards or the regions 3-part cards to show children where each bird can be found in the wild.
Present the maps of North and South America, alongside coloured pencils and a pencil sharpener. Children can colour the maps to show each bird’s habitat. Use the 3-part cards to write the name of each bird in the corresponding space.
Alternatively, you can make toucan flags! This is a very fun activity.
Katherine from I Believe in Montessori has many cool flag activities, including her Landmarks of South America set that you can get here.
Let’s put together our bird flags!
You will need:
- bird flags
- tooth picks
Fold each card in half. One side of the card contains an image of the toucan. The other side features the written name of the bird. Children can use the map 3-part cards to see where to place each bird.
Present your bowl of toucans to the children.
They can poke the birds into the approximate area where they are found in the wild.
Tip: First ask the child to colour the entire region and then poke in the flags.
Life Cycle of a Toucan
Introduce children to the life cycle of a toucan using the toucan spinner! Use a brad to secure the cover to the life cycle circle. Children can turn the sheet underneath to see the stages of the life cycle of a toucan.
Discuss important vocabulary with a set of 3-part cards.
This set also comes with information cards. Older children can match the definitions to the vocabulary term.
Children can colour their own life cycle book.
Secure the book together using a stapler or a binding machine. It’s so sweet to see how proud little ones become of their hard work. They tend to be so excited to practice reading their own book over and over again!
Use the life cycle gluing work to place the circle images in order. A poster is provided as a control of error.
You can also write the corresponding number on the back of each circle.
For multiple use, laminate the circles, mat and life cycle poster. Next, you can add hook and loop dots to the circles and life cycle mat.
Try an alternative sequencing work with these life cycle cards.
I cut out the stages of a life cycle cards around each image. You can also leave the cards as a rectangle. I think this way looks somewhat more catchy though!
To present this activity, I kept everything neatly arranged on the tray. The arrows are in the small chest. I love adding small, interesting touches to our presentation that can help to catch the eye! Children may wonder what surprise is inside the chest!
Anatomy of a toucan
We are so in love with this! Let’s make a toucan puzzle!
This felt puzzle is a cute way help children discover the parts of a toucan. Our Toucan Printables come with instructions to help you make your own felt toucan friend! The printables packet comes with labels that you can present alongside the felt toucan for children to use to label it.
If your child is writing already, they may prefer to make their ow labels! Be sure to keep some paper strips and writing materials nearby!
Art and Fine Motor Activities
Developing strong fine motor skills is essential for children in order to be able to write, complete self-care tasks, and simply to carry out basic tasks with ease.
To help children with this, we can offer some activities that specifically target development of their fine motor skills.
Remember, the shapes they are poking out as well as the art afterward, are intended to offer the children a time to concentrate and develop their pincer grasp.
This work is not about perfection, nor is it about the end result. It is about the process! They are learning from completing their work in their own way.
Present the following materials to the child.
You will need:
- Pin poking printables
- Pin poker
- Bowl for keeping pin poker
- Foam mat
The child can hold the image up to the light to see if there are gaps between the holes.
Safety note: Whenever I present pin poking works, I always use a larger, jumbo stylus. This is because there have been cases of children swallowing small ones.
Please, please, please never leave your students/children unattended when using such materials.
Also, I only recommend using a large punch. You can get them here.
Children can practice cutting along the dashed line using the toucan scissor strips.
Remember to offer a small bowl (or chest as featured in the image above). The children can place the cut pieces into this bowl to save for later.
You can use these cut pieces for several different types of activities another day:
- Sorting (as pictured below)
- Gluing – a fun art project!
- Patterning practice
Toucan lacing cards
Sewing is such a phenomenal activity! You can usually find sewing work in Montessori classrooms. This is because of all of the amazing benefits that sewing has for children:
- Fine motor skills
- Hand-eye coordination
- Finger dexterity
A work like this will require a great deal of concentration and patience. Children will tend to work meticulously to pull the string through each hole.
A sewing – or rather stringing – activity like this is a precursor to sewing using material. The holes punched on our toucan template are fairly large. They are indicators for where the needle needs to go.
To make this activity, I printed the lacing toucan card from my Toucan Printables Pack. I punched holes along the indicated spots.
We used a larger, plastic needle and colourful, yellow yarn. Even though the tip is not sharp, we still practice keeping the point away from the fingers and how to use the needle safely.
You can use a hole puncher to make each of the indicated holes. Additionally, I would laminate the template for prolonged use.
(The image is not laminated for this photo due to the glare produced on the camera. The one on our shelves at home is usually laminated.)
While I generally prefer open ended crafts rather than guided projects, every once in a while, we break out into something a little different!
I left instructions for my children to assemble little toucans. This is a fun way to practice following instructions, and the result is just cute! Our puppets were a complete success and the children enjoyed moving their wings and heads!
Math and counting
Use the number strips provided to practice counting, number order, counting on or skip counting!
Number mats are provided. These are optional though. Children can arrange their puzzles on these blank mats.
You can also provide Montessori number beads alongside the puzzles. Children can place the puzzle pieces in order. Next, they should place the corresponding number beads underneath each strip.
These images are really beautiful and can grab the attention of the child. Some children may want to make their own number puzzles by using the blank mats and drawing their own images!
Offer some paints and let them explore! There’s so many possibilities for learning all around us!
Get the printables
DISCOVER THE HOKA COMMUNITY
Please note: the printables featured in this article are part of the HOKA South America theme. All of the files mentioned here are available to HOKA Club members, including our guide that will help to break down the month.
Our guide also has several tutorials showing you how to add hands-on activities to this theme. You can learn more about the HOKA programme here.