Monday, April 13, 2015

Texas Bluebonnets!

As is the Texas tradition, here are our bluebonnet pictures!

Tes decided to give herself a haircut a couple of days before Easter! We had to chop it all off at the front the day of our Easter pictures!


Friday, April 10, 2015

School Days - Updates for March 2015

Ok, so continuing to catch everyone up!

Here is what we worked on for March:

So Swiper has been observing us with the bells. So much so that he requires no presentation. He goes straight to the shelf to get a mallet, then picks a bell and *gently* strikes it with the mallet. He then proceeds to move across the shelf and strike a different mallet on the other end. It's too cute! He never choses two bells right next to each other. He will even strike one bell on one end and then lean over as much as he can without falling over to strike a bell 4 or 5 down the line, while holding onto the edge of the shelf for dear life :).

I was finally able to present the large bead frame paper to Cat. Here she was writing down each bead value without the zeroes. She just filled in the digit that represents the bead she was counting. She started with the first bead and moved it over, and wrote down "1". She proceeded on with "2" and then "3" and so on. When she got to 10, she moved them all back to the left and then slid a "10" bead over to the right. She then wrote "1" in the tens column on the paper, no zeroes. Under that she wrote a "2" in the tens column for 2 tens, etc. 

When she was done, she taped all the pages together and created a scroll!

I think Tes had pulled out the land and water forms. I asked her if she remembered the names of them and she had. I believe it was the gulf and the peninsula. I showed her that we had maps to color and how to find the different landforms. In primary, the land and water forms are peninsula/gulf, island/lake and ishtmus/strait.

And here she is bored, I guess.

MJ working with some clay. I can't remember what he was making. I know it had nothing to do with anything school related or anything he was "researching", which is nothing at this point. I have since declared that all clay work must be created in conjunction with some sort of study. I plan to get some books for learning how to sculpt before I let go of that new rule. It's on my list!

And Tes started reading!

This is the beginning of reading. This presentation is the Phonetic Object Box. Or "basket" in our case. It is a container that has several objects that are spelled phonetically. It is introduced with the adult writing out an item on a slip of paper and the child finding the item from the box (basket). After they have matched all the items to the labels, they are free to work with "prepared" labels that have been created with print, as opposed to the handwritten ones in cursive for the presentation. The items in the basket are switched out daily with different ones. At this point she's completed all the levels of the Sound Games and sand paper letters. The sound games help the child to hear all the sounds within a word. You start with the beginning sounds, then move to ending sounds, then finish off with sounds in the middle of the words. This is started very early on with primary children. From there they move on to the sand paper letters, then to the moveable alphabet. As the child writes his/her thoughts with the moveable alphabet, they start to read what they've written. This is a sign they are ready for reading. 

"Officer Cutie" playing with sharp pointy objects. Someone should arrest him! Or me!

MJ working on a spelling list. This isn't official spelling practice, as far as spelling rules go. I just simply picked a puzzle packet and had him go over the words so we could make sure he knew how to spell them. The ones he messed up on, he looked over and then did again. We basically continued this until he got the last one right.

I think this was a presentation on congruency, similarity and equivalence with one of the hexagonal boxes. These are constructive triangles that were used in primary and carry over into elementary. When we finished up Cat wanted to work on her own designs.

I finally gave MJ the presentation on compound words. He should have had this last year but I never got there. He didn't like reading (still doesn't) and so I did't want to push the work with reading and then writing out words from a list. He's doing fine finishing up all the word study work this year though. It includes suffixes, prefixes and compound words.

Swiper waking from a nap! Awesome hair! He gets this awesome wake-up head from his Great Grandpa!

Someone does not want to get started with school! That, or he's conceiving an evil plan to destroy everyone's school work.

I suggested to Tes that we work on the seed puzzle since Spring was arriving, or maybe it had already arrived at this point, can't remember. Anyway, we went over the parts and the names. Then we read this book. There are other books by this author and they are all LOVELY! The illustrations are beautiful and the kids really like them. The statue and the book are there because we had just gone over adjectives orally. It is a game where you ask the child to bring you things without using the adjective like "bring me the book". They keep bringing you books while you keep saying "that's not the one I wanted". They are supposed to ask you "which book?" You finally give them some adjective to describe the book. "The honeybee book." You don't go into the name "adjective" but you just want to draw their attention to the role adjectives play for future study with grammar.

Cat and Tes had been wanting to make a pillow for the longest time. I'm so bad at getting things ready on the shelf for them when they are interested. My prioritizing is beyond bad. It's just something that I have a hard time with and am really starting to face as I try to implement Montessori to the best of my ability. Anyway, here is Cat ironing away per instructions in the Keys of the Universe albums for sewing a pillow. First we have to hem the edges that will create the opening for the stuffing. The iron is just a small traveling iron and the ironing board is a small table top one.

One edge for Tes!

I don't know how Dr. Montessori taught young children to knot the thread. It does not seem simple When I'm trying to show it. I showed her several times and it was just a bit complex for her. She can make a simple knot with a shoe string, or on the bow tie frame, but it seems harder with a tiny piece of thread for some reason. I guess because of the lack of the other "end". You are working with one string and one "end". Hmm...sounds like something we can practice with a shoe string! Mental note: put a shoe string in the classroom on the shelf (five years from now). Regardless, we got the knot tied so we could move on.

Here is Tes threading the needle. She's good at this part!

Cat making stitches.

Tes making stitches.

Now that Cat's pillow is hemmed along the short edges, she had to sew the long edges together to close the sides up.

Tes pinned her sides for stitching! They both did this really well. 

Ok so this basically took FOREVER. I think it took our school period to something like 5 hours! We were exhausted and hungry and cranky by this point. And I didn't even get a picture of the finished product. I'll post one soon!

While all the pillow work was going on MJ was placing the images onto the blank Timeline of Life. Swiper was sleeping at this point, thank goodness.

Here, Tes is working on the Phonogram Shadow Box. This box comes after some work with several phonetic works. This presentation is a box of small phonetic objects and only one object that has a phonogram in the spelling. I write out on labels each item, saving the phonogram object for last. When we get to the phonogram object, I point out the phonogram in the word and then we use the phonogram alphabets to spell out the word along with several other words using that same phonogram. The phonogram is spelled out using red letters while the rest of the word is in black.

Prior to this we worked on the Phonetic Object Box over a couple of weeks changing out objects every other day or so. Then we worked on Phonetic Cards which are just phonetic word cards that are used to practice putting in sentences. Then we worked on Phonetic Booklets, stage 1. These booklets are just homemade booklets with a picture on the left page and a phonetic word on the right page. She has read through a few of them, but I'm not keeping track of which ones. She's also done Phonetic Commands, which are little cards with commands on them using phonetic words like "get a map". The only non-phonetic words are "a" and "the". She enjoys doing those command cards while Cat does the phonogram commands. This way they are both doing silly things and both reading!

That is all I captured for the month of March, although there was plenty of other works going on. I forget to pull the camera out some days and then other days the battery isn't charged, while other days Swiper just keeps me on my toes with no free hands for a camera! 

March was also the month for Swiper's first birthday! Happy Birthday cutie patootie! Hopefully I'll be able to post soon on some of the stuff I am able to work on with Swiper. He is growing so fast and working on all his practical life skills!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

School Days - Updates for rest of February 2015

Ok so blogging is hard and takes FOR. EVER. Especially if you have small kids. So we've been gone for a month or so and our back to give an update. I can make time for blogging when I take advantage of fast food instead of cooking and cleaning up our mess afterwards! Bam! An extra 3 hours right there :).

Ok so here goes:

The latter half of February went smoothly....I guess, I really don't remember. I have pictures to prove we worked on stuff though!

Here, Tes is working on her hammering. This is definitely practical around here since we are usually trying to make something out of wood.

I guess this is another day since she's wearing a different shirt. For some reason we were going over the sand paper cyphers. I think she chose this work. I turned it into a phone number lesson. We practiced dialing Grandma's number, Daddy's cell phone and Momo's number.

MJ and Cat working together with the phonogram commands. Not really group work but there are enough cards that they can both do them for a while without repeating. This is primary work for practice reading words with familiar phonograms. It also tests reading comprehension since they have to act out the command. This way you know if they read it correctly or not. And of course they can always ask for help if they are unsure of something. Elementary kids wouldn't be working on this, but I allow MJ and Cat to do anything reading-related since they are behind with reading.  They can always use refreshers with phonograms at this point.

Here is Tes's work writing with the moveable alphabet. I was strongly encouraging this because I wanted to get her going with reading, which comes after lots of moveable alphabet practice. This says " (Swiper) went to the pizza place" She wanted to add more but I think Swiper either woke up from a nap or I was trying to put him down for a nap. She won't really do this without me being right next to her. She'll wander off and mess with MJ and Cat when I'm out of the room.

MJ continued working on the large bead frame with long multiplication.

Oh and we finally introduced the Hand Timeline. It is one of the Great Lessons that is basically the backbone of the elementary Montessori class. It is a series of stories about how the world and life came into being. This lesson opens up History, which is the written record of human life on earth. I had written it down on our whiteboard for the kids to put in their journals. I didn't get pictures of it though. Can't remember why. I think I was having a hard time keeping Swiper from messing up the long cloth. You unroll it to show how long people were here before they started writing. The story that goes with this presentation goes into human life and our needs. It naturally flowed into a conversation about the how we meet those Fundamental Needs in our everyday life. 

This is our Fundamental Needs chart. Pictures are provided in Jessica's albums over at Keys of the Universe. I made this last year and presented it to MJ. This is the first time it was presented to Cat.

Here is the Fundamental Needs chart for Food. These images are also provided by Jessica in her albums. It is just an example of how we meet one particular need in the first chart. Cat and MJ decided to create a chart for the needs of Defense.

Here they are cutting the circles. This project was really good for showing me just how much I need to show They just started cutting out a bunch of circles. They started to glue some on the board before even deciding what they were going to draw or how many circles they needed. They had not even drawn any sort of graph so they'd know where to place the circles. I had to sit down and have a long discussion about "planning" with them. I helped them to make a list on a separate piece of paper for all their categories of defense, like what kinds of materials they'd use and what kind of weapons they could think of. They worked on this for a few days. It was pretty funny. They had drawn things like blankets (to hide under if a bad guy comes) or poison berries (to poison the bad guy with) Shows how much tv my kids are exposed to. Or at least how much "bad" tv they are exposed too. The only "real" weapons I saw on their chart were a gun and a spear. I believe electricity was on their as well, because that where you get the news on tornadoes in the area so you can run for you life to save yourself! This experience was definitely an eye opener! We have some thing to discuss!

Here is Tes working with the moveable alphabet again. This was on another day and I was showing her how to space her words with two fingers. I made her practice a few times. I had noticed that she just kept starting new words right at the end of previous ones.

She chose some princess attire for this school period. Tes is 4.5 yrs old and I believe this outfit is a size 2T. It is definitely a favorite!

Swiper is still swiping things from the table from time to time. He really loves chewing on these polymer erasers! He swipes them every chance he gets.

For the past few weeks we'd been listening to this cd. Putumayo Presents has a great variety of music from many different countries. The variety even includes things like children's music and lullabies. I have many of them on my wishlist. Anyway, I had just chosen one at random and purchased it to add some culture into our days. The kids really like this cd. It was played over and over. 

Swiper doing a handwriting lesson :).

Now THOSE are weapons for defense...haha! No more tv for Swiper!