Friday, October 25, 2013

Week 9, October 21, 2013

Country Cards, I made a card for each country in North America, with it's name in script on the front...the picture(s) depict a single item (of many) that makes that country notable...this can give the child a point of reference, other than simply shape and color discrimination, when he/she is learning the names of all the countries. (After this it is on to Africa--which I just finished memorizing and then on to Europe.)

(Sorry, haven't figure out how to rotate pictures in blogger yet.)

Phonogram sound cards for T. These sounds are from the Dwyer booklet, and the pictures include that phonogram either at the beginning, middle or end of the word. T whipped through these in two short sessions. "Qu" and "or" were the most difficult. And now we are on to learning how to spell these phonograms using the cursive moveable alphabet.

My cheat strip on the back, in case I haven't a clue what the picture represents. 

Being funny with the thermometer

Being funny with the snack water pitcher. --Not very Montessorian--

For now, our work plans. I hand-drew each card, scanned each image, and pasted them into an Avery label template. After printing them out, I stuck them to index cards cut to size, and didn't bother to laminate them. I wanted them to be semi-permanent, simple, and easy to not feel guilty about when they get ripped, lost, tossed, or rotated out as the child goes onto the next level. The folder is a simple manila filing folder, with business card holders on them (with an extra flap for the fifth week-day) I used clear packing tape to affix everything. I don't love this design, but it kind of works for now. I am also having misgivings about the entire set up, since it seems that the kids focus on the their to-dos and don't get past this much. I feel it curbs imagination, and their curiosity to explore beyond what they have right here. I think I'll build in a little more "inspiration" and exploratory time in the afternoons for now.
Vocabulary cards, or nomenclature cards, without words for D. Got these free from the Helpful Garden, and printed them out in B/W. I got out my colored pencils and have been slowly shading them in, cutting them out, and laminating them. D really likes these. We use them for naming, "this is an "iguana." And we use them for category discussion, "which items can you eat?"

I've been slowly introducing the kids to watercolors...which is ironically the medium I found so very frustrating as a young child. Now as an adult, I understand that the parts I disliked so much are what make watercolors so beautiful. Patience, flexibility and tolerance for surprise weren't my strong qualities as a child. (Maybe my child-hood art teacher would disagree, but that is how a non-formally-trained artist sees it.) I see so much perfectionism in the kids in their strong drive to create exactness. While all good qualities, I also want to draw their attention to unintended positive consequences, inquiry and exploration,  and the point that our lives, while not perfect, are certainly very worthwhile journeys.

Golden Beads - static addition -- we are working on naming the hierarchies

Oh, that magic slide...

Reading Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

Ending sounds - "ar" "n" "b" and not sure why there is "j" in most out there, some objects are bought (Montessori Services) and many have been collected from different toy sets we've had and "lost" in the house.

Alfalfa sprouts

A radish...not doing well. Can't figure it out. The seedlings are very strong, and then we water, transplant, not water, don't feed, feed, drain, give light, etc. etc. etc. and they brown, yellow, get weak, stop growing new leaves, and die. Hummmmn.

Self-invented Halloween craft. "Did it all by myself mom."

Scary Halloween pumpkin lanterns. Came up with this one on the fly one afternoon. Take a gallon glass Kimchee jar--don't even take off the label. Draw a Halloween pumpkin face on a piece of scrap paper. Overlay a piece of contact paper, and trace the face features. Cut them out with a scissors, peel off their backing and adhere them to the jar. Take the entire jar outside, use some cardboard to block the paint mist, and spray paint the jar (without the lid) orange. Very light coats keep the paint from running down the side of the jar. We used Rustoleum...very stinky. If the paint does run down the side of the jar, it is okay, it will make it look spooky. After the paint has dried, peel off the contact paper forms and stick a battery light inside and put on the white top and voila, a Halloween pumpkin.

Arthropod anyone? D's favorite at the moment, yes, even though the reptiles and the mollusks come in a close second and third.

Watering plants - these were transplanted into a window box liner

Science activity - writing with invisible ink (lemon juice) and then exposing the message with iodine

Australian wildlife

Printing - ink, brayer, glass for rolling out the ink, the back of a paint brush and a piece of food service Styrofoam...use the thick kind, not the take home box kind. (Got the brayer and ink from the art store, the ink is for paper, and the brayer is a 4" soft rubber one that pops out.) We'll eventually graduate to cutters and linoleum, but for now, exploring the negative is where we are. Oh, the glass is from a picture frame. (Hearing the crackle of the ink on the glass made me think of block printing as a child...)


Wonders of the world - Taj Mahal

Geometry Cabinet - exploring angles and sides - right/obtuse/acute and scalene, isosceles, and equilateral. 

We went to visit our old school, and did some work there this week. It was great seeing friends, observing teachers giving lessons and getting tips on how to handle things in our classroom.

Snack time.

Lunch time - he turned out to be quite the class clown. Unfortunately some of the older boys got in trouble with the teacher for laughing and other antics in response to D's silly behavior.

Reading after lunch

Story problems, these all happened to be addition problems from the Helpful Garden. T had no trouble figuring out the equation and doing the addition in his head. Got the booklet idea from My Boys' Teacher.

Egg floating experiment - love those experiments. (Got the activity from my NAMC binders, and then "translated" it to graphic form, hand drawing each step onto note cards, laminating and hole-punching them and then putting them on a binder ring. (Took me forever to figure out what those binder rings are called.)

More zoology cards and wall charts. He took all of these out, plus the work rug. He is looking at our set from Montessori R&D, which are really for elementary. They include the primary, mammal, bird, fish, reptile, and amphibian and also add a bunch of others...we have the additional arthropod and mollusk out at the moment. Had to also explain to D that not all animals have a muzzle. I could only think of mammals that had muzzles, but he decided I was wrong, and that the wasp/arthropod definitely had a muzzle.

"Mama! Match-Match!"

Collateral damage--good thing they are number coded - made the little folders myself out of manila filing folders. I taped them on the sides (not quite down to the bottom, so that they could give a little due to the thickness of the card material) with clear packing tape...and my labels with icons are linked down at the bottom of the blog. 

How to begin a new project...I am wondering about this. At this point, he doesn't have a clue as to how to get started. Just plain doesn't understand what a project even IS! He looks at me blankly, and doesn't say a word. Do I model the project planning process for him? Will he take that too literally and only be able to apply these steps and no others? Will he ever be able to adapt, apply, or improve these processes? How do you get a child to pursue something they are interested in, but doesn't know how to delve into further? How do you get a child who doesn't ask and doesn't know how to ask (because of speech processing issues) to ask for help investigating something they want to learn more about? I feel I am missing a huge chunk of theory here...

Tracing different polygons and then counting their sides...and then adding faces, arms and legs, etc. (To keep track of which sides we had counted, she drew little "x's" near each of the sides already counted.) 

According to S, the hexagon is her most favorite. I know from O-chem, what a common figure that is! For my science-minded maven, it shouldn't be a surprise that this polygon is her favorite and then the one deemed worthy of appropriate shelter.

Making a booklet for mama, and you can also see our word family cards at the bottom. Here she was working on -ad as in: m-ad; b-ad; l-ad, just blending two sounds. At the beginning of the year, 10 weeks ago, she wanted nothing to do with these pink cards. Now, she accepts them, and reads them pretty readily. Later that day she was also reading some early reader books. Something has changed, confidence? Comfort in the classroom? Conscious choice in what she does on a daily basis? Don't know for sure, will probably never know, but I don't mind, since it is something she chose and we are headed in the right direction.
Marigold bud...finally...S was SO excited!

Look what I grew! She truly did, from seeding, to germinating, to transplanting twice, and watering, and then harvesting...but somehow I think that these are so prized that they will never see teeth.

"Look mom, the big root! It is dirty, I need to wash it off." --Somehow I found the soil knocked off the root ball in the recycling bin??

Reptiles? Carapace anyone? Somehow the tail is D's favorite. I think is interest in these cards stemmed from spending some time at the old school classroom observing the turtles in action!

This all started because S was having a hard time with "b" and "d." I asked her if she wanted to see the cursive letters and she said yes, and noticed right off that "b" and "d" look completely different. Bolstered by that, she asked to use the green boards and chalk to "draw" "b" and "d." We had a very hard time with this. I wonder if it could be her reluctance to spend time with the sandpaper letters, being the sensory adverse baby that she was and person she still is. She doesn't love that feeling. And she doesn't have that muscle memory. She is a fantastic artist though, and loves visual shapes. We ended up with a more basic shape than "b" starting with "i." We named that the storm wave because it comes to a peek. Then I showed her the cursive "i" with a dot, and she was delighted to see that she could already write in cursive. Then we did a "i" storm wave, and then made a rainbow right after, which formed a "n." Finally, we tried a loop-the-loop roller coaster for "e." It all seemed to work well, starting with simple forms and gradually going to more complex forms. I was trying to focus on the letters in her name so that the entire lesson would be come tangible, and useful very soon. For someone who hates writing letters and numbers, I'd say we made progress today. I didn't follow any workbook, or curriculum. I just used my head here and followed her interests.

Is this 2 and not yet 1/2 year old a math wiz? Not quite...D got the large bead frame down all by himself with some collateral damage, but was ecstatic to be working with such a fun material. 

Brought over his very own toddler chair, from across the room, and climbed up, knocked down the story cards, and *success* the LBF acquired. *Mission complete!*

S with continent map


  1. Hi Abbie. I'm Tracey from I've so been loving your site since MBT mentioned you on FB. I just love the Science cards you made. Any, any chance you wouldn't mind scanning them, please? I love your hand drawings.

    We've also been focusing on art. I've done a few courses through Fairy Dust Teaching. One of her best secrets is to use Sharpies to draw and then to use watercolours. We do this loads, drawing first then watercolour. Works great!

    I love how you just have weekly round ups. Been thinking I might just do this for my blog - like a weekly diary entry.

    Thanks again for a great blog!

    1. Hi Tracey,
      Thanks so much for your kind words. (And for the mention of how you found me. I am not much for the social media, so it is nice to thank those who give the shout-out.)

      After a bit of scanning and a tiny bit of layout- the Science Activity Cards Sets are up on the Elementary Printables Page.

      I've heard of that watercolor technique too with the permanent markers. I thought I might try that after this crayon/resist lesson. It might just break them out of the monotone outlines and stick figures. :) If found these techniques and more from another blogger, and sadly, and stupidly, I didn't write down the source. She has a couple of videos on her blog about watercolor technique for kids and many really great tips about how to manage watercolor in the classroom.

      Thank you so much for reading. Check back for more printables in the future...I am ALWAYS making new things, and knowing full well the cost of Montessori homeschooling, I am always willing to share whatever I can. There is one project for the Noun Family that I am can't wait to show this week!
      All the best,

    2. Oh my gosh Abbie, thank you so much!!! they are fantasic. Off to print them and get my science section up and running. I had just bought a few goodies a few weeks ago for the great lessons. so excited.

  2. Thank you so much for posting all you are doing with your kids. Your kids look very close in age to mine as well, so it's good to see the parallel work going on. I wanted to ask if you would mind sharing your phonogram picture cards. I didn't find them in the primary downloads section. Also I'm loving your workplan. My son is also 7 and we just started doing Montessori full time this past September, so it has been quite a process. I'm trying to ease him into a workplan and yours looks like it would be a great fit for us right now. Oh and one more question...I like your math booklets, are they just an 8x11 sheet of paper folder in half longways? I want to make some as I'm preparing for my 5 year old's upcoming math after Christmas. Anyway, love the blog and can't wait to see what else you guys have going on. Looking forward to your ideas.

    1. Hi Jenn, Thank you for coming by! I'll take a a look at my files and see if I can find the phonogram picture cards. Send me an e-mail with your e-mail address and I'll see if I can send them along. Did I post the work plan cards on the elementary printable page? We've actually transitioned out of those for a bit...but if you can't find these cards, I can send these along too.

      And yes, those colored math booklets are just an 8.5X11 portrait folded in half lengthwise. And again, I can send you the file that I created for that too if you'd like.

      Thanks for stopping by!