Monday, February 23, 2015

School Days - Last 2 Weeks (2/11-19/15)

I have been super busy making card materials. I'm trying to finish up all the language folders as well. Take a peek at my "Free Downloads" page. I have created a tab for this under the blog header. I want to share what I can as I make stuff to hopefully save some headaches for others who are using Jessica's course or any AMI course for that matter.

Anyway, I'm back to give a quick update on what we've been working on. It's not much but you can still see what Montessori homeschooling looks like with a baby :). We did not have school on President's Day, Mardi Gras or Ash Wednesday :).

Here is what we've done:

Swiper pretty much just looking for trouble every few seconds.

I couldn't resist posting this one! He has a birthday coming up and I needed a good shot. Perfect! Crazy hair and all!

He was hiding behind the bead cabinet and kept popping back to see us.

Not sure what this is. He's leaning back as far as he can before falling over. 

Cat and MJ working on a dragon book together. Not totally school but I'll take it since there was some writing going on with it.

And this is what the floor looked like a few minutes into that session with Swiper poking around at stuff.

Like I said I've been making tons of card materials. I pulled out my old stash stored in a box from the days before I found Jessica's albums and we were sorely lacking! I need to redo some of the original ones I'd made because I didn't know they were supposed to be part of a complete 3 Part Cards set. I had only made picture cards. Plus my personality wants everything to be uniform, so I couldn't just whip up a batch of matching labels. I need ALL my card sets to be the same size and format, thank you very much :). So this is what I've been working on the past week and a half. You can find the ones I've finished on my Download page.

Here is Tes working with one of my old sets. We pulled out 4 sets and she sorted them by category. I think they were vegetables, clothes, church items and I forget what the other set was. Anyway, she knew most of the names of things except several in the church category. I realized that I need to explain better what is going on with these items when we go to Mass. These cards are part of the Social Classification sets. They basically help the child organize their world by allowing them to classify things in their minds. The cards are used for Vocabulary Enrichment so the child can express themselves better by knowing the names of the objects around them. Generally we teach the kids what things are called in everyday life, but I was surprised at a few things she didn't know the names of. I never thought to stop and make sure she knew what something was called. Shows how much I probably refer to things as "that thing right there" or "that (while pointing to it)". 

This one is for daddy to look at while he's at work :). Hi Daddy!

Here Cat and Tes are working on two different things while helping me out with Swiper. I think Tes was doing sound games but Swiper was trying to get the miniature objects. She was showing him the tiny My Little Pony brush. Cat was waiting on me to give her a number to make on the Large Bead Frame, so she was checking out a book that was next to her on the shelf. She's been coming along good with those numbers. At first she was having trouble creating numbers in the ten thousands and hundred thousands, but she seems to have gotten better and faster.

Swiper is definitely not ready for math yet.

Cat, Tes and MJ all having their turn at the bells. We always begin a presentation going up and then down the scale to train their ears. This presentation was a simple matching game. We took one set of bells to the table and they had to chose one from the shelf to match and then go find the match on the table.

MJ listening with his eyes closed. So then he realized that these bells have numbers engraved on them. Then he started covering his eyes so he wouldn't "cheat" by looking at the numbers. Stupid numbers! I was wondering how long it would be before the kids noticed. The girls only noticed after MJ said something out loud.

Tes checking out her match. She had a little trouble at first but eventually found the right bell. She had to go back and strike the bell on the shelf a couple of times. We will continue playing these games daily. The kids are really enjoying them. MJ has been playing songs on the bells and has now started playing songs on his keyboard as well. He's had that keyboard for several years now and has only really ever played the preprogrammed tunes or the funny sounds. I'm glad these bells have sparked an interest in making music. 

Here Tes was working with the Moveable Alphabet. She jumped from stage 1 to stage 3. Stage 1 is just forming single words. Stage 2 is forming small phrases or article/adjective/noun combos like "the pink tower" and such. Then stage 3 is forming sentences that leads to paragraphs. She pulled this work out and wanted to make sentence after we'd only done one session with multiple words a few weeks ago (I think when we started the blog up again). Anyway, the above picture says "Frisco watched a movie." Frisco is my grandma's dog. The kids love him. She always wants to use his name with this work.

Here, she wrote out "Ice Cube is cute." Ice Cube is her Ty blue penguin stuffed animal. She did pretty good but she was off with the phonetic spelling of "ice". I said "How do you make the sound 'I'" and she said "I know this is an "I" because I heard you say it before when you pulled the letter out". This is exactly why we don't teach the letter names. Instead of her using "ie" to make the long "i" sounds, she used just the single letter "i" because the NAME is the sound she needs.  Either way this is not a spelling lesson, which we will work on down the road, but it gives me a sense of what we need to work on with her sounds.

Cat has been continuing her fraction work. I presented equivalences with her. Here she is putting multiple pieces into the half section of the halves frame. She is finding equivalences of half.

This was fun. Tes has already done most of the work with the geometric shapes. After going over the album pages, I realized we hadn't ever played this game. She found an object from the environment that was the same shape as each of the geometric figures.

This was my favorite! Look at that, same color and everything! I was totally thinking that she would go digging through our miniature sound objects looking for a little egg that we have. I didn't think there was anything in the environment that had that same shape. I'm glad I'm not leading the teaching

And a classic pose!

I didn't get a picture of it, but I worked with Tes on sorting some animal cards into the classes of vertebrates. We talked about their differences and then I pulled out these pictures. The kids spent the rest of class looking at each one on the window. They are pretty neat because one side has a picture of an animal (or human) and the back side has the skeleton. When you put it up to a bright light, you can see the skeleton through the picture. 

You can kind of make out the skeleton here.

I think Tes has it turned to the skeleton side here.

Today this was the only shot I got. MJ worked on a long multiplication problem. He still tends to write his numbers backwards so I gently remind him and he fixes them. When he showed me this problem that he made up, I said "So you have 4867 multiplied by 'POO.'" He was all too excited to tell his sisters what he'd done and we all had a good laugh for a few moments. We'll see if he remembers next time. 


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

School Days - Monday and Tuesday (2/9-10/15)

The first part of this week went decently. I'm finally starting to get into the groove of this "schooling with a baby" thing now. It takes much more planning and preparation to make sure I have everything ready to go in order to pull it off in short instances when he goes down for his cat naps! As long as I have prepared my plans and pulled all the album pages I need, I can just go right to them when I have any spare moment. And every second counts. Literally, every SECOND! :)

Here is what we did:


Cat worked with fractions again yesterday. I introduced writing fractions to her. I showed her one example and she labeled one fraction from each set. She had already started putting them away when I took this picture. Sorry it's blurry, I was just trying to hurry....ya know, keeping an eye on Swiper while I do this.

Here she labeled each fraction piece from each set. There is a "1/4" missing. I'm not sure what happened to it. I'll have to make another one.

I was finally able to move on with circle nomenclature in geometry with MJ. We worked on lines in relation to circles. We talked about secant lines, tangent lines and external lines. I plan to finish up the circle work with another presentation on two circles in relation to each other. Very similar to this one.

Here are Cat and Tes working with the story basket. Apparently the actual basket is part of the story as well. I think it's a hill. I would have never thought to use it. Shows how stunted my imagination is. Their's are still fresh!


MJ finally worked on long multiplication with the large bead frame. Right now I am requiring him to work at least one problem each day until next week. I need to show him the partials presentation and he has to be able to do these entire problems in order to see what the "partial answers" are. He did good today with a little bit of help. I'm pretty sure he'll be able to do it tomorrow with even less help. His problem today was 8283 x 22. He messed up at some point the first time we went through it because when we started to write down the final answer, there were millions beads on the right side that shouldn't have been there. So we started over, this time going a lot faster. It also helped him with his multiplication facts because he was able to remember all the multiplying he had just done without looking at his chart. We keep the multiplication control chart from primary with us for this work since his facts haven't been memorized yet.

Tes working on a stereognostic bag blindfolded. These bags have contents that the child is supposed to feel and then separate in to the two outer dishes. They range from really easy, like a ball and a cube to hard, like a penny and a dime. There are 8 bags in all. I keep these bags in a basket on the shelf. They are all numbered and she picks out random ones each time. I should change out the contents in each bag on a regular basis but I can't find the time to do that. 

Somebody is sleepy but won't go down for a nap. Buster (the stuffed dog) will have to do for now.

Here is Cat writing in her journal. She is writing down the time. Not sure what is going on here. she has an extra "10" over to the left and is writing the time over to the right???  Just thought I'd share that she's at least writing in it.

Ooooh and these got me so excited. These are not the REAL Montessori bells like Abbie's. They are still nicer than the handbells that were here previously. I didn't like that the kids could not play a song on the handbells. You had to pick each one up in order to strike it with the mallet. I found these over at IFIT and they are a fraction of the price of the real thing. It was something I could afford. These bells don't include sharps or flats which is a bummer, but not a deal breaker. I can hold off on introducing sharps and flats until the elementary presentations with the tone bars. As soon as these bells arrived, I set them up in the school room. As soon as MJ saw them, he started trying to figure out how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He has a good ear, despite not having too much bells experience. He was able to figure out the notes on his own.

Anyway, today I gave the official bells presentation with the mallet and damper. I played up and down the scale for them and had them each try. Then MJ showed everyone that he could play Twinkle Twinkle. I'm glad they are excited to use these. The fact that they are on stands makes such a HUGE difference. Tomorrow I plan to give them the matching presentation and then start playing all the games in the album with them. 

This has been one of Swiper's new games. He squats behind something and then pops up when you say "Where did he go?" I want to eat him up!

Buster got a hold of the bells. I don't remember giving him the presentation.

Ok so I put the bell there (just in case you were wondering) and used this setup to give Tes the presentation on "observing" others. Cat and MJ were working on suffixes together so I needed another body to role play with her. She had to lightly tap him on the shoulder as he was playing the bell and wait for him to respond (I was really responding for him, he's a puppet) and then she asked if she could observe him. He said yes, so she sat quietly with her hands in her lap and watched. The kids were cracking up at my Buster voice. For some reason I hear Buster talking like Yota from Star Wars.

Ok Swiper what are you up to now? I heard something.

Ok he's definitely got a metal inset, but I swear I heard some knocking or banging of solid objects a minute ago...

Aha! Good thing class was over. I had to clean up all his messes! At least we were able to get some learning in, despite Swiper's messes. The kids are pretty good about helping clean up his stuff. Good practical life lessons in working together and helping mom out :).


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

School Days - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (2/2-4/15)

Last week we only had school 3 days. One day we had a playdate, which required a bit of cleaning and tidying up. Then we used another day to go visit my mother-in-law who recently had surgery.

Anyway, this is what we've been up to:

I sat down with MJ and finally created some sort of workplan. We had a conversation about what he had been doing the previous weeks (I have been recording everything everyone does in my planners).  I took some notes on things he likes that I had not prepared for him yet, so I could work on getting those on the shelves for school work. He REALLY wants to sew a pillow! He also mentioned how much he likes copy work! He said he enjoys practicing his handwriting when I give him words to practice. Anyway, in this picture he had already pulled out his first work which was watercolor painting, when I had to stop him so we could go over his workplan. From his workplan he made a short (3-4 item) list of the things he wanted to accomplish the following week. It was much easier than I had anticipated. If you want to know more about what we did, I followed this advice and this video source. If the video isn't on the front page, then you can search for it. It is called "Meetings and Conferences".

Swiper is up to his usual shenanigans! I sort this under practical life - practicing taking his clothes off. These are definitely not Montessori approved clothes, since he can't take them off himself. And if you happened to catch it in the picture above this one, his diaper is on the floor. He practices taking that off often as well. It is Montessori approved!

MJ working on his artistic expression.

Tes worked on fetching sand paper letters again. She really enjoys this although she is way past this stage. She could use the work so I don't mind her going back to it.

Swiper loves this little round box. He actually takes the lid off and puts it back on. I was surprised he could do it. He will sit and concentrate on it for a good 5 minutes or so. 

Tes loves posing for these pictures. She is fetching the letter I requested.

Swiper trying to help with the sand paper letters.

Swiper's help being rejected and the materials taken away :(. 

Another "hidden" letter. She puts these things everywhere.

Cat worked on equivalence this week.  The triangle and the square are equivalent pieces because they are both 1/4th of the whole. And of course, she had to build houses with them. I noticed Abbie's kids doing the same in her posts this particular week as well!

Tes worked on metal insets. I showed her how to use two shapes superimposed onto each other. This work is designed to help the hand with writing grip as well as nourish creativity with design work.

Here is her finished product. Her and her sister put happy faces on EVERYTHING.

Then she turned it into a book to give to her Momo (the one who had surgery). 

MJ worked on the commutative and distributive laws again with the multiplication bead bars. He was noting it in his journal.

This is a picture of Cat's journal. She loves writing that capital cursive "F".  I had recently showed her how to write the time and work on one line. I think I have a picture of her journal entries in another post where she puts everything in completely random places. She would use a whole page for one time and one work! Anyway, we fixed that. :)

As I had looked over the equivalence work, I noticed that follow up work included fractions. I'd gone over fraction with her probably a year ago and we haven't touched them since. So I pulled the fraction circles out for review. She immediately pulled out two pieces to show me they were congruent. She caught on really quickly with the fraction work and at one point exclaimed "Hey, I've done this before!" It was funny because we were on the third presentation before she realized it was familiar to her.

Here Cat is working with clay. She enjoys sculpting miniature creatures. 

Ok, this particular day was rough! Tes pulled out the land/water forms and filled the trays with water. This is fine but she hadn't done this yet since baby has been around. He went straight for it. 

At first it was ok. He just stood there playing with the vehicles.

Then moving his way to the other side of the table and becoming more excited...

...he did this. :( Dumped the tray over and water was everywhere. Good thing these things are shallow. I figured this would happen which is why I was just standing close by. 

But then it quickly got ugly and wet, and there was no moving past this to let anyone work in peace and quiet, so we had to move to another location...

Bathtime so Swiper can get his water needs met while I help Cat work on creating numbers with the large bead frame. Please ignore my disgusting bathtub caulk. It is yucky because we don't ever use this bathroom, so it's just not on my priority list right now :). I guess I better get to it though since this looks like a decent place to hold some schooling while Swiper is entertained!

I just like this picture :).

Here MJ was working on the grammar box. He had to put the cone "against" the cube. Prepositions!

And those grammar symbols are oh so inviting!

This is a picture of our "story basket". The foot is not included. I just introduced this to Tes and she really enjoyed it with Cat. I change the contents daily, or at least try to. They have used it every day since. It just includes little objects from our reading/writing object cabinet. We use those objects for sound games and phonetic and phonogram reading work. I'm trying to add more of this type of stuff onto our shelves that is not strictly "academic", so the kids can have more variety and not get burnt out. These things are included in the Keys of the Universe/World albums but given my lack of time, I tend to concentrate on the core academic materials (reading, writing, arithmetic). I'm breaking out of that habit :).