Saturday, May 30, 2015

School Days - May 2015

Wow, 3 posts in 2 days! I had a lot of pictures to load from my camera. Might as well get them all done!

I did not get any pictures during our school days in May, except the last couple of days. It has been challenging with Swiper. He takes short naps and now he has been taking them later than usual. Once he's down, the race is on to see how much I can present in that short time, so the camera often gets forgotten.

Tes has been working on more reading. She hasn't been drawn to math lately. She is always choosing reading works. She likes the phonetic command cards. We've also been working through the phonogram object box. I change out the phonogram object every time we have class. We've done "ch", "sh", "ar" and "qu". She also chooses some practical life activities here and there like clay and drawing.

Cat continues to read small, short readers and she really enjoys the phonogram commands. We've also continued with geometry. We finished up Congruency, Equivalence and Similarity. I presented Polygons to her the other day, so that is where we are at right now. She hasn't been interested in math lately either. Yesterday she worked on a filler box for Grammar Box 2. The other day we did the second part of the oral noun exercise where she sorts cards into nouns and "not" nouns. I also gave her the Definite and Indefinite Article presentation. Sorry I did not get pictures of any of this!

MJ is finally decently comfortable working on long multiplication problems with the large bead frame. We are ready to move onto either the Bank Game or the Flat Bead Frame. I need to read through the presentations to figure out which one to do first. He is already 8.5 years old and we still aren't finished with the grammar boxes. I finally sorted all the cards for grammar box 7 but we haven't been able to start that yet because I never made the actual grammar box. When all the wood was cut, I somehow missed the pieces for that box...ugh! We tried to make it several weeks ago but the blade on our saw was so dull it was getting stuck in plywood! Well we finally got a new blade so it just needs to get done. He has mostly been working on reading. I've been going over some of the remediation sections in the album.

Here is what we were able to get pictures of the other day:

This is another cd from the Putumayo Presents collection. They have a TON of cds. It's ridiculous. I'm glad there are options though. I bought this one to go with the book below.

I found this book on Amazon, as well as the cd. This book is one from a series. There are several other books on other countries. I like these books because they show one day in the life of a child in that country. In this way it is very relatable to the child. They can see what is the same and what is different. I start out by showing them on our puzzle maps and our globe, where the country is. Then we read the story and then we play the cd. I plan to get the other books as well paired up with cds. 

Oh and here is a really neat aspect of the book! It is also written in the native language of the country. Love it! I still haven't given the 4th great lesson which is Communication in Signs, but this will tie in very neatly with it!

Here Tes is just being silly. She's actually looking for something in one of the bins to follow a command from the phonetic command cards. I think Cat put the stuffed animals in there while she was on the chair.

So I finally gave the presentation The Leaf.

The leaves contain water which is made up of 1 oxygen and 2 hydrogen particles.

The carbon dioxide in the air is made up of 1 carbon and 2 oxygen.

When the sunlight hits the green parts of the leaves, the 2 hydrogen separate from the 1 oxygen in the water molecule. The 2 hydrogen combine with the carbon dioxide to form food for the plant. This leaves the 1 oxygen that gets released into the air. At this point Cat's face brightens up and she exclaims "That's how the plants clean our air for us!!!" I try to keep plants in our home because I'm always telling the kids how we need them to clean the air since we are not outside and there are loads of chemical gases released from just about everything in our home. We don't open the windows too much here in Texas because it is obviously really hot most of the year, so the plants help us to get a bit of fresh air. I'm glad she was able to put that together herself. I didn't know how it worked either until I gave the presentation.

Here is the chart I made for this presentation. This is one of many charts from the elementary albums (Jessica has the image of this chart in her albums). They are called "impressionistic" charts. They are meant to make an impression on the child's mind, not provide accurate scientific information. The kids enjoyed this presentation and I found Cat looking at the chart afterwards for a bit. The molecule set was not part of the presentation but I added it in so they could actually see what I was saying as I was saying it. 

This is the set I used. I found it on Amazon. I think I saw this set used in someone else's blog but I can't remember which one.

This led to Tes watering the plant. She is in primary but she often sits with us when I give "story" type presentations or experiments. She wanted to give the plant water so it can make more food. The presentation says to let the kids go outside to see how the plants try to get sunlight in order to make their food. I had a perfect example in our garden. We use our own compost and most of the time it is not completely composted, so there are always seeds and eggshells in it. When we added compost to our garden, a squash plant started growing near a tomato plant that I had planted. I didn't want to kill it and it was already too big to transplant so I just flipped it out of the garden since it was right at the edge. All the leaves were upside down. Well the next day they were all right side up again. I showed the kids and reminded them of the plant being upside down and how the leaves had now turned straight up. They were able to point out a few things in the yard that were very obviously reaching to the sun.  A hanging basket for example. It is high so I had to point it out to them but I didn't say anything other than "check out the flowers in the basket". They immediately noticed how they were only growing on the side that gets the light, leaving the other side, under the shade, bare. 

Next week we'll be back on track with school. Hopefully I'll be on here more regularly.

Friday, May 29, 2015

School Days - April 2015

Ok so now that May is already just about done, I'll show you what we did last month in April...haha! We didn't do much. My son had his First Communion!

I spent some time taking care of things for the party and there was plenty of house cleaning to do. My grandmother also stayed with us for a week afterwards, so we didn't get any school done during that time.

Here is what we were able to accomplish, or at least what I was able to get pictures of:

Tes is working here with the number rods. This is Exercise 4: Impression of Addition. I've given her this presentation before but it had been a while. As you can see in the picture, you start with the 10 rod and create all the combinations that make 10. When you get to the 5 rod, you show the child that if you flip it over to the right, it will create 10, so two 5 rods equal the 10 rod.  At this point she is working on Formation of Numbers with the cards and the golden bead material. I wanted to refresh her memory on this exercise so we can move on to Exercise 5: Impression of Subtraction and be finished with the number rod and card exercises. Obviously I'll leave this work out for her to choose, but I will be done presenting anything new with it and can focus on moving forward with decimal system work instead of filling in the gaps.

Here I finally gave the presentation on Separation and Saturation and Super Saturation.  I heated up hot water and added salt. I was supposed to use some sort of clear container but I figured it was easiest and fastest to just boil water and pour it directly onto my comal! I don't even know if I spelled that right. It is my cast iron pan used to heat up tortillas :). As you can see the salt is clearly visible, or maybe that is mostly calcium! Either way the kids see that something was left behind, so the solution was separable.

Next I used a test tube to mix water and copper sulfate. You can see the copper sulfate towards the bottom of the test tube. We shook it until it dissolved in the water. We kept adding copper sulfate until it would no longer dissolve.

Next we heated up the solution to see if it would dissolve the rest of the copper sulfate. As it dissolved we added more, until it wouldn't hold anymore.

This is what it looked like at the end. I put as much as I could into the test tube. The liquid was getting thick although you couldn't see the copper sulfate separate from the water. But when I reached the end, obviously there was some at the bottom because this is the see how much you can get in there before it won't dissolve anymore. We stopped here and I believe Swiper woke up at this point. I don't remember what we did after that but when I got back to the kitchen, the solution was cooled down and it looked like this:

Pretty neat to see how much was actually able to dissolve because of heat. It was packed in there!

At some point during the month, the kids became snail crazy! They found one snail and it led to another snail and by the time I knew it they had collected about 30 snails! They wanted to keep them and had them all inside a tupperware container. This is where I come in to guide them with their freedom by reminding them of their responsibility. I told them that they had to many snails and they were all going to die in that container. I required them to read about snails or else release them back into our yard. We discussed how life is something that we should treat respectfully. We discussed our role as stewards of the things on this earth. They were happy to take care of the little creatures but didn't seem too enthusiastic to read up on them.

MJ is looking some snail info up in our encyclopedias. We found out that snails need green and brown matter as well as lots of water.

Here's one of the little guys. Or two of them actually. 

And some practical life work. Cutting up the sticks to put into the snail habitat.

Cutting up leaves for the snails a swell. Not sure why they didn't just put them in there whole. Cutting is more fun than not cutting I guess.

Well this is all I got on the camera, but we continued with the reading sequence with Tes. We didn't make progress into further works but just continued working on her command cards and phonetic booklets. We've also been reading some books on other cultures, although we are not studying any specific culture at this time. I just want them to get a little bit of exposure right now. I'll post more on the books in future posts. Most of my time has also been taken up by Swiper. I've been purging old things and trying to get this house simplified and organized for this little guy! He's working on me!

Adventures with Swiper

This is the first infant I've had while implementing the Montessori method in our home. I figured I'd just show a little bit of how we implement it with Swiper. Right now he is 14 months old. These pictures were taken within the last 4 months.

Swiper knows how to:

Fix a lawnmower!

And pour water on himself!

Actually, I just thought those were cute pictures but man, look at the concentration!

Ok, so here are some of the real ways I try to incorporate the Montessori philosophy in our home.

Practical Living:

We have a small broom that he loves to play with. Anytime one of us is sweeping, he will pull this out. And if someone is using it, he will pull out the small hand held one in the cabinet behind him. He just brushes it back and forth across the floor briskly!


Here is his current setup for eating. The chair is 6 inches off the ground and the table is 12 inches high. When he wants to sit down he gets in front of the chair and then backs into it. I have to help him push it up to the table. Each morning for breakfast I serve him his food on his plate (we now use a ceramic one, not the plastic one pictured), which he retrieves from a shelf on another wall. I hand him his plate and he walks with it to the table. We also now use a placemat which is not pictured. I pour his milk for him and I set it on the table for him. I have let him pour his own milk from a very small creamer into his glass a few times. I  need to do that again. I just got away from it for some a hurry probably :(.

Sometimes he uses his fork and sometimes he doesn't.

Here is his little glass. I got this from Montessori Services. He's using one hand...

Ok, now he needs both hands. Please note the outlet clearly reachable and visible to It is now covered, don't worry!

Drinking! Success! Little bit of milk spilled on the table. Also, he should have a bib but I don't use one. I just don't have any. Actually I have one but he doesn't like it on. I usually set a napkin on the table for him. I need to make a spot on his shelf so he can grab his own napkin.

This is pretty much the norm right now. He drinks most of it and then pours some onto his plate to explore.

And yes, he still eats the food that is floating in the milk. Sometimes, most times, he takes some of the egg and puts it into his milk glass and then drinks the milk. Knocking out two birds with one stone.

Yum, milky sausage and eggs. Eating with his hands all while still holding the fork. Love it. Oh there's a napkin. I must have set that there. If I put a napkin in front of him, he automatically starts swiping it back and forth across the table. I never showed him how to do that. He just started doing that in the classroom with a rag that was on the table. He does that anytime there is a napkin, towel, rag, whatever on a table. He must have seen someone do it during class.

Here is another eating session. He is able to use the spoon when food is "sticky". 

Feeding the Montessori way, is such a disaster. It has really aided me in becoming more patient. It helps to be prepared also. I always have a towel handy to catch him if he decides he's done and tries to walk off! When he starts walking away from the table, I lead him to the bathroom while telling him we need to wash our hands. He is good about following me on his own, but occasionally he thinks I meant to say " I'm gonna get you!" and proceeds to smile while running in the opposite direction! 

I love his yogurt beard! He did this all on his own. Nice!

Playing/Fine Motor:

Swiper loves this thing. He always giggles when they pop out. There are little springs at the bottom of each hole. He knows how to push them down while letting his finger slide off the side so the pegs spring up and out of the block.

He got it eventually. He only ever puts one in and then pops it back out. I try to show him how to put all 4 in but he can only concentrate on one at a time I guess. I'm sure there is some explanation for that but I am not trained. 

 Around the home:

Other than his little chair and table in the dinning area, this is the only other toddler sized piece of furniture we have. I got this chair at Walmart. It is perfect for him. We have a sitting area on our deck so I thought it would be nice if he had a place to sit as well. Not that he sits much but once in a while he crawls into this. I really want to get a little leather chair for the living area. One day!

I found this list of blogs helpful and stole lots of ideas from these moms when setting up our areas. I'll post more on each area at a later time. Hopefully before he enters primary!