Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week 12 - Nov11, 2013 Part 1

We are back. From a weekend up north and a little bit of time to recover, and a holiday. Went to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. The kids liked all the things I didn't expect. And the gift shop was more than amazing. All I could think of was continent boxes!

I got the Keys of the Universe Elementary Albums and for those of you who are on the fence and are seeking some more of the why, how, and when about Montessori, well get off the fence, and purchase these. They really opened my eyes, and I am seeking to tackle many things differently, and hopefully we'll find more successes all around. (And a big thank you to My Boys' Teacher, for all her advice over the last couple of weeks. So very, very, helpful. Thank You!)

Anyway, to the subjects at hand this week...I'd been seriously floundering as to how to get out of the Math and Language rut. That isn't all there is in the cosmic curriculum, but it seemed as though it was all we were covering. And T and S were feeling it too, they were not excited, felt too scheduled, too predictable, and there was no contextual, "why are we learning this." So, I had a couple of epiphanies: S is very nearly 6, and with the way she talks and what she talks about, I think she is already in the second plane of development. That changes things in terms of the reading and the writing in a big way. So, I am changing the game plan for her.

In terms of T, same deal: In the second plane of development. So fill in the gaps, but keep moving on with the Elementary subjects. T did most all the primary math over his two years in Montessori school. Though I plan to add in the memorization of multiplication facts and division facts into other works on a daily basis, this doesn't hinder him at this point in the work sequence. He seemed so incredibly board "proving" to me that he knew his addition facts with the addition strip board. And he had NO interest in regressing to "practice" with the stamp game, and was so eager to MOVE ON! So we are. Filling in as we go, but focusing on the next plane of development.

And of course, who can forget little-not-so-little-D. He is just under 2 1/2 and is in our classroom environment 5 days a week. So, we are starting Primary training for him pronto. I had thought, oh, this is a freebie year, pre-primary. But since his birthday comes when it does, and he has all this exposure, and seems eager to engage, why not? So, we'll start now!

This post is the first half of the week. Just decided to do it that way this week. Since I've decided to spend more time on the blog, and explain myself a little, I figure it would be nice to not have to read a huge long post, but stretch it out a little with two posts. So look for the one at the end of the week. Honestly, I don't know what will be in that one. When I've figured out what they have in mind, I'll let you know, like on Friday.
Volcano Making Activity = Messy, VERY Messy. But lots of fun. We needed a boost of enthusiasm this week in a lot of ways. The Keys of the Universe Albums suggested Great Lesson discussions. So I went back to the first great lesson, God With No Hands, and pulled together a few science activities that parallel some of the highlights from this story. I chose to focus on gravity, volcanoes, and the laws of particles--in this case water particles. From my NAMC lower el science album and another book we have called, The Universe Rocks, I pulled some activities, made card sets, and put them out on the shelves. After a little reminder of the highlights from that first lesson, the kids set to work on THIS top-priority activity.
They needed a little bit of help on this one, collecting the materials...they didn't know where I had put the bag of top-soil (how sad is that? We need to get top-soil from a bag!) and they didn't know how much 1 Cup and 1 Tablespoon are. But they did a great job collaborating and working together to clean up the work area, materials, and carpet. All were delighted by the red-lava!

I've done this baking soda volcano thing before with other containers, but the narrow-necked water bottle worked GREAT. All that pressure spouting out a narrow opening created a wonderful geyser-like effect.

The noun story set up, from Cultivating Dharma and an extension activity. The Wonders of the World has some pyramid pictures, we have our real coal from (didn't read the fine print and the first pieces I got were plastic), putty for the noun labels for the farm, and our black noun pyramid geometric solid. The laminated noun labels are for the farm environment.  

It worked! The new lessons and stories worked! T asked about the other symbols on the grammar stencil card and asked to do more. Here he is tracing and filling in the symbol stencil upside down. (It is from Alisons Montessori. It also came with one for sentence analysis.)

Solid Grammar Symbols (To give you an idea, T is average height, and is 7 years old (and not quite a half) and this is how high our taller shelving is.)
S thought it was funny to putty the noun labels to the backs of the animals. Even though she is a beginning reader, she still participated in our grammar noun lesson sounding out "ram," "cow" (with phonogram help), "goat" (with phonogram help), "horse" (with phonogram help), and "pig," and picked out each object to label. (Sorry I don't remember where I got these...but I printed them on regular paper and laminated them.) The Farm is Melissa and Doug and I got it from Montessori n' Such and it came with animals, but I think that some of these pictured are also from Safari Toobs, Down on the Farm.
D stole the "tractor." Notice those engine-humming lips...

Commutative and Distributive Properties: (a+b) = (b+a) and (a+b)*c = ac+ab respectively. These lessons are from the Cultivating Dharma Math 1 Album. I made the perens from a manila file folder and colored them black with a marker. We used the grey and white tiles, I think these are from the flat bead frame??? (the numbers are all in black...a correction anyone?) and the decanomial beads since this box included ten-bars. Here is (2+5)*3: 2 taken 3 times and 5 taken 3 times, which equals 21; and 3 taken 2 times and 3 taken 5 times which also equals 21.

Here T did the same thing with three different numbers he chose. And over there on the right, I was demonstrating a pattern when you organize multiples of 9 vertically (tens ascend, units descend.) We used this as a jumping off place for the memorization of multiplication facts.

Next up will be doing multiplying a sum by a sum: (a+b) * (a+b). This all leads to abstract multiplication using only number cards and no beads, geometric multiplication, and eventually algebra and the binomial and trinomial. 

Grammar. I so feel very shaky in this area. I struggled so with writing, spelling and all that goes with that from high school and through college. Finally at the grad-school level after a half decade in the workforce drafting business correspondence I felt I could finally express myself in writing...sorta.  

So, these key lessons, scripts, and definitions are all from Cultivating Dharma. Here is the article introduction. It took T and S a while to figure out I was omitting a little word. But eventually they got it.
Mama: "Get me apple...does that sound right to you?"
T: "No, get me an apple PLEASE!"
Mama: "Get me apple please...does that sound right to you?"
T: "No, CAN YOU get me an apple please!"
S: "You're missing 'a'. You need to say, 'can you get me a apple please."
Mama: "I was missing a word. Can you get me AN apple please."
S: "That is what I said. "Can you get me a apple please."

Maybe they overlooked this a little because this is how D talks--with no articles.

The picture before is prettier I think.

You can see I didn't follow the script exactly, the kids switched some things too, and 'the' came up. I saw that indefinite vs. definite articles comes up in second year grammar.

We also got right underway with the grammar box for the articles. It is box 2-1, and we got to go over the why "a" vs. "an." (There is no definite vs. indefinite in this box.) Got the filling box and the grammar box from Montessori Outlet (the filling boxes are fine, the grammar boxes, ehhh, so-so quality.) The cards are from Montessori Print Shop...warning, these use a TON of ink, and laminate, and time to cut out. BUT the kids thought that this activity was rather fun, since you could change out cards and come up with something different each time.

T was the one who noticed the speech difference between "a" vs "an." I told them the vowel rule, but both seemed pretty comfortable with the speaking difference and that "a - eye" sounds funny and "an eye" is correct.

And more silliness.

And I kind of pushed this one. Kind of. In CD (Cultivating Dharma) this presentation is given with flowers. This would have worked with S, but not so much with T. He LOVES Ninjago. He LOVES Taekwondo. He get the idea. So, I had him bring down three of his ninjas in a rare move and he was so interested in what we were going to do with them. Well we used adjectives. I will not go over the entire presentation here, it is in the elementary Language album, but you get the idea from the picture.

T is more confident writing and copying, so he writes. S does not write at this point. He printed at the top as you can see, and then I encouraged him to try cursive, which is what I had used in the lesson writing in front of them. He didn't learn cursive first, so this was quite an accomplishment for him. Also, he doesn't always print in all caps. I don't know what he was doing here. We have to work a little on spacing so that we can fit in our grammar symbols. Somehow the stencil is a huge hit.

This is not a knight in shining armor shield. It was more like, an, "I can't see because my hat malfunctioned, and what is this Mama?" "It is a plastic pot saucer. And it was cold outside.

This activity was called Timeline of the Universe and it is from that book The Universe Rocks adapted by Ronnie Randall. S drew 7 events from God's creation, to Ancient Greek and Egyptian History, dating back 4,000 years ago. (2 is the formation of galaxies, 3  is our solar system, 4 is the coming of life on earth, 5 is the dinosaurs, 6 is the coming of humans.)

Then you measure out a 100 foot length and along it mark when each of those 7 events occur.

D helping with the tape measure.

Three heads are better than one.

I am standing at the creation of the universe. That first marker is when the galaxies started forming. S is where dinosaurs appeared, T is where man appeared, and just past him is when ancient history started.
Blind folded sorting. 

Oh, Dwyer sound folders. T loves "oy." so we started there. He did a couple folders in succession and he really liked this activity. The folders I made out of manila filing folders and packing tape on the sides. The red sound cards are index cards and the words in the little booklets are from the Dwyer pamphlet, though I made a new file using Dnealian Cursive, available here and on my Primary Printables Page.

T went through the Pink, Blue, and Green series in his school, but since he got to phonograms last, he didn't complete them all, so here we are reviewing them.

Hot chocolate mustache.

2 year old silliness.
Looking on our shirt for those compound words!

T did compound words a while ago and this is an extension from CD. I made cards, in cursive that have the first root word in black, and then others with the second root in red. There are multiple first root words that fit with each second root card. For example, "super, space, and fire" all can match with "man." I simply printed them, wrote the complete compound word on the back of each as a control, marked the set with an orange dot in the front (because I was also preparing another set of compound word cards at the same time) and laminated the lot. And presto: a new compound word activity.

Now, in all fairness, this activity was a little hard for him because some of the words were new vocabulary for him, like mockup and benchmark. But it was a good discussion, and T pushed on at the end, even though Daddy had come home early and was upstairs, he didn't want to clean up, he wanted to finish. That's the enthusiasm and focus I was looking for. I think we may be back on track here. (Oh, these printables are available in cursive here, or in print here, or on my Elementary Printables Page.) There is a cool site that has a wonderful list of compound words you can find it here. (I've noted it on the bottom of the printable pages too.)


  1. COMMENTS ARE ON!?!?!?!?! And you didn't tell me !?!?!?! AWESOME!

    First off, D is SO CUTE in the farm/tractor pix I want to pick him up and eat his cheeks.

    I'm so glad to see someone else rolling out measure tape on their street in the name of homeschooling. I did that the first year with the black strip, LOL. Took me forever to pick the dirt off the felt.

    I laughed so hard when I saw the picture of your kids holding the noun and article pyramids making the faces. LOVE IT!

    I love T checking his shirt for compound words. My kids are doing that type of thing all the time too. Your phonogram booklets look super pretty and I love the compound word cards.

    I've intended to start the commutative/distributive section of the album for ages and have been lazy. Maybe you'll see it next week.

    Now that comments are enabled I'm going to have to reread your whole blog again commenting at will!

    1. Thank you. It seemed like the right thing to do, to turn on comments, if I was going to be sharing more about what we were doing. I mean, how else were people going to tell me that they got a good belly laugh from all of D's antics and episodes? Anyway, comment away, I hope to start adding more information about where I get things, how I come up with the things I do, and sharing more files for materials I've developed. And of course thank you for all your help and advice MBT!

  2. Abbie -

    You have a great group of children there :) I love their personalities! I just found your blog via MBT and have been perusing your posts.

    I thought I'd mention that the grammar work isn't "set in stone" so don't worry about something being "first year" or "second year" - most of the grammar work can be introduced the first year, and followed up as needed in subsequent years --- definite/indefinite articles can even be introduced in primary to ready children :) I get a lot of questions on this topic ;)

    1. Hi Jessica, I really can't thank you enough in this tiny space for all you do to help people like me do what we do. THANK YOU. I owe so much to all that I've read that you've written in comments, in blog posts, on the message boards, and in your albums...Just...really simply thank you!

      And about the grammar, it is wonderful to hear that kind of advice. Since T is so very interested in all of the symbols, and parts of speech, I figured we'd go through them and introduce them all rather quickly. It has turned out that we are able to insert bits and pieces here and there, especially at meal time, during geography lessons, and on car-rides. It is so fun to point out how our lessons weave into every-day life.

      After the first introduction I plan to swing around back and delve into each part of speech more deeply, getting into some of the subsequent grammar boxes, and lessons. This is all interesting to me too, since I never learned this in school.

      Again thank you for all you do. It is so very much appreciated.

  3. Abbie, the compound words work in english and curve, are awesome!"!!! thanks so much for share it!! You will see that one soon on my blog!!LOL T kills me in math!!!! Omy!!! he´s soooo good!!! Love all grammar jobs!!!! So funny!!!! Amazing week!!!