Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Part 1 Week 15, Dec. 2, 2013

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving here in the states. We did. I ate a little bit of turkey and no stuffing (sadly, I didn't make any gluten-free stuffing this year) and some cranberry sauce...twice, that is what you get with this crazy Korean family.

And I did A LOT of planning and reading over the holiday. Trying to get a toe-hold here on where to begin, jump off, just plain start, with the other subjects besides Language and Math. I feel that there is so much, and that it is ALL important. So, I am just planning to start. :) Meanwhile I am furiously making materials in the evening hours. I feel like an elf.

Here is a peek at the first half of our week...
D is revisiting a little bolt screwing. Don't think that this body posture helps anything. We got this bolt board from Montessori Services and I talked about it last week in this post.

I am starting out December, and the rest of our school year for that matter, with a good dose of Physical Geography, Natural Science and History. It will be as much as they can take.

Here I've set up for The Keys of the Universe Geography Album - 3 States of Matter demonstrations. Here I only have enough demonstration materials for solids. The kids were able to see that the usually same-all-the-time-solids can change their form a little bit when we add heat or force. This lesson is a general extension of the First Great Lesson - God With No Hands - when we talked about the "laws" God put upon each of the different particles in our universe. To those particles that form solids, He told them to hold onto each other tightly and try not change their form. The next day I introduced liquids and gases.

Here D is adding some force to our solids, and making them change their form a little bit.

Small pieces of balsa wood, terracotta, and stone tile, that were all subjected to super force.

This is my set up for liquids and gasses.

The spray bottle on the end turned out to be S's favorite, as it contains a rose hydrosol, and she decided it would smell nice in the gasses we breath ALL OVER the classroom.

This is the pin map of Europe and T acting a little silly. I talked more about these here. I am working on putting onto the shelves our other pin-map cabinets. (And I am also trying to figure out how to afford the large N. America pin map cabinet that has all the land and water forms on it too.)

Here T is working static and dynamic large bead frame problems. And, since he doesn't need the bead frame anymore, it is shoved WAAAAY over to the other side of the table. He is just adding into the millions with a pencil and a piece of paper and his brain--amazing. (He is using the colored lined LBF paper we got from Montessori Outlet.)


I made these color coded problem cards, printed them out on Avery mailing labels, stuck them onto blank index cards, with an answer label on the back, and I put them in an index card box. I've also coded them on the front so I can tell which set they are from: AA - is quantity formation only, no operation (A was reserved for the first Small Bead Frame card set); AA1 - is static addition; AA2 - is dynamic addition; BB1 - is static subtraction, and so it goes from there through multiplication and division.
These are the small bead frame and stamp game equations. I think I made 20 of each kind of card. The equations vary in difficulty as some incorporate zeros in the problem, and some dynamic equations involve carrying once, twice and three times.

I got this index card holder from a Church Charity sale. You can buy these new, but they are something expensive! Be sure to check the churches in your area for their sales even if you aren't a parishioner. Our church sale proceeds go to benefit charities and the stuff is donated by parish members. There is usually a TON of stuff to pick from and this is where I got a lot of our plates, dishes, bowls, and silverware specifically for the classroom.

The left is the reverse side, with the answer, and the right is the equation card with the code in the upper right corner -- A2 is dynamic addition.

This is a new activity for D. And he is OBSESSED! There are four wooden 12-piece puzzles in this Melissa and Doug set. All are vehicles, which he loves - there is a school bus, a train, a race car, and a fire truck. We got these on Black-Friday-Weekend-sale at AC Moore, which is a craft store chain. (Read that - we got it for WAY less than Amazon lists it.) 

Anyway, it has been his THING these past two days and I am so glad I brought it out instead of waiting until Christmas. He just sits and does each puzzle, then breaks each a part, and puts the pieces in their separate compartment and then takes each puzzle out in turn and constructs the entire puzzle set again. He does this for HOURS. 

For those who are puzzle challenged, and are putting this away (D puts his away though) there is a stamped shape on the back of each piece so you can match up the pieces that go with each puzzle.

D is working at his little table. And he is paying no attention to the random guy in the woods out back who is chopping up the logs the County workers left on the ground from a cut down dead tree into fire wood?? There is usually NO ONE but an occasional deer who hangs out back there. 

Montessori Grammar! This time it is the verb. We took this lesson directly out the Cultivating Dharma Language Album. My set up included our noun family, our red-verb grammar solid sphere, our grammar symbols box, and grammar box and filling boxes for the Verb. And finally the lesson utilizes our bear figure and very cute baby, my niece, Little S. (Thank you to to Little S's mom for such a very cute picture! The kids LOVED it!)

First I asked the children for a noun family for each object. They came up with: "the black bear" and "the little baby" which I wrote down in black ink on little papers. 

Then I wrote down two actions on two different slips of paper and T and S acted them out. (I used a CVC word -- hop -- for S to sound out.) 

After they acted out their action, I asked them to point to the brown bear, and to point to the little baby, which they did. I then asked them if they could point to their actions, which were hop and stomp. Tyler pointed to his foot as he stomped and said, "yes, I am pointing at my action!" I twisted it a little by explaining that their verb action doesn't really last. After it is over, after it has been performed, it is gone. There is no pointing at a past action. However, the bear figure and the baby picture, keep on existing, and you can still point to them. 

Then I asked for an action for each of the objects.They came up with, "the black bear roars," and, "the little baby cries." I wrote each in red ink and then explained that the phrase now turns into a sentence and therefore needs a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end.

After this, we went over how the red sphere is like the sun, which gives light, energy, life, and warmth to the earth. And like the sun, the verb gives life, or action, to our noun, thus making a sentence. After this, they were able to select the appropriate grammar symbols for their phrases, and T even used the Verb Grammar Box to categorize his sentence.

Some fraction work. I read somewhere that equivalency work with this material is critical for future fraction work. But, that isn't what we are working on here. We were working on a little bit of addition. 

Fortunately, or unfortunately, T can already do this. He was whispering all the answers to S. So, that means that all that time I spent make fraction equation cards for same denominators...well, T doesn't need these. (These equations all came with my NAMC black-line masters, but they were unusable. Or at least they were to me. The equations were all different lengths, which didn't stack well. So I re-did ALL of them, printed them out onto Avery mailing labels, stuck them onto blank index cards, and then stuck an answer label on the back and then put them in an index card box.)
This was Sydney's addition problem. She can do the operation just fine, but writing it down...we are still working on this.

Hundred Board and S. She is finally there! I saw her run her finger down each column to make sure that the unit numbers were the same. 

This is our preposition lesson set-up per the Cultivating Dharma Language Album. I asked T and S each to bring an object to the rug. Then I asked T to place his object on his head and I asked S to place her object, far away from her and I wrote each of these phrases on a slip of paper and I wrote each preposition in green ink. Then I asked T to put his object under him, and S to put her object behind her, and I wrote each of these phrases on a slip of paper. And I wrote each preposition in green ink. I then explained that each of the words written in green gives us more information about where their object is located in relation to themselves. 
After this, I introduced to them the green bridge, also known as the preposition grammar solid. And I explained that, like a bridge connects two banks of a river, the proposition bridges two nouns together.

After the initial objects and phrases, I asked T and S to get two more objects from the classroom. T chose a sponge and a pompom. Again we wrote down our sentence, "Put the pompom beside the sponge." Then I said, "that sentence is soooooo boring." and so we started to add adjectives to describe our objects and make our sentence a bit more lively. T and S came up with, "Put the round, green, small, soft, furry pompom beside the orange, rectangle, small, hard, dry sponge." And then we added our grammar symbols on top, and we even ran out of adjective triangles. 

S picked a shell and a bolt. After we wrote her sentence, "place the shell far from the bolt," we modified it to be more interesting with adjectives. And then we labeled each word with its corresponding grammar symbol.

These are some of the preposition grammar cards I re-did for our filling boxes. The grammar cards from Montessori Print Shop are easy to purchase, but they are formatted with white text on a colored background. You can take that to mean: you are going to pay less for the file, but you are going to pay a bundle for the ink toner and the laminate. I chose to only pay a lot for the laminate and to re-lay out ALL the grammar cards, from adjective through interjection. A LOT of work. 

I use a free publishing program called Scribus. I make certain text boxes and then copy them over and over and the program will remember your specified font, font size, spacing, color, etc. Then I just export it into PDF form to print.

That's all for now!


  1. Thank you SO much for sharing how you made your equations and how you store them. At the very top of my to do list for three weeks has been to make equations for the LARGE bead frame (all operations). I also need to make division and multiplication equations with divisors and multipliers greater than one digit. I wasn't sure where I would put them because my math cabinet is full and Me Too is still using the contents. Even with my single-digit multipliers and divisors that I already have, the multiplicands and the dividends are only four-digit which seems silly after taking all the trouble to teach the bigger numbers.

    Is the file you made to create the labels you printed and stuck to the index cards shareable?

    Great photos as always!

    1. You are so very welcome. It is always nice to know that something it took me time and effort to put together can benefit someone else, and they DON'T have to take time to create it.

      I hadn't thought about the SBF problems and doing two digit and three digit multipliers...will need to write up a batch of those. I think it was because we went onto larger hierarchies, and just ended up doing checkerboard for multiple digit multipliers.

      I got the idea for these after seeing that Neinhuis has batches of "activity cards" for most of the math materials and that this somewhat encourages the child to work independently. The trouble we've been having is that T learns the process and concept, then does three problems, he's made up, shows me that he can do them correctly and efficiently, and then says he is done and asks to move on. SO, that means that HE isn't benefiting from all my hard work, so it is doubly nice to know that someone else might be able to use the file I spent hours creating.

      It is linked on the Elementary Printables Page. :)

  2. I'm loving your blog! Thanks to My Boys Teacher for reminding me about it via her blog. I have it bookmarked now so I dont forget.
    I just love your photos, they are beautiful. Your classroom is so organized too.
    If you have time, Id love to request a blog post describing how you deal with teaching elementary while also teaching a toddler. My little one is almost 2 and most of the time I feel like I have to keep her out of the classroom or we get nothing done. I'll be watching your blog for more toddler ideas.

    1. Thank you, it is nice to have you stop by. That is a fantastic topic. I've been thinking a head a little bit to the break over the holidays when I've decided we will not have class (and when I've decided I'll try to catch up a bit) and what the topics of the posts will be during that time. I'll be sure to add some of my thoughts about trying to span the bridge between the toddler-pre-primary and lower el extremes!

      I have to say that D routinely surprises me. He is now officially 2 1/2 years old, and as you can probably tell, he has two older siblings, who are 3+ years older. (T and S are 18 months apart.) Because of his larger age gap between him and his sister, and brother, he generally is able to play by himself pretty well. He finds his own toys, does his own thing, reads his own books, and has his own interests because of his age, and the fact he is so much younger than the other two. For this reason, I think he also behaves in a more independent manner in the classroom too. His latest puzzle craze has taken him away from the main gig quite a bit and the older two and I are amazingly able to hold a lesson on the composition of the earth, or the verb, without him interfering.

      I think it is also critical that he have his own "works" in the classroom too, and he sees materials that are meant for him. He of course has off days, but that usually means a little more whining, but no less interest in doing his own thing without Mama. I guess I am saying he isn't clingy. I am still working his materials, but for now, he joins us when he wants and does his own thing when he wants because our space permits him to choose his own work.

      Thanks so much for suggesting this topic. I'll be sure to incorporate some of those pre-primary ideas into future posts too.

  3. Hi Abbie,
    I'm an Abbie too. You seem to have my email address listed as your contact. is my address. Please edit your contact info on this and other locations if necessary. Thanks

  4. Wow you are doing beautiful things here! I'm so glad to have discovered you through What Did e Do all Day. We are also a catholic Montessori homeschooling family. My 3yo does the bolt board exactly like your little guy....funny to see those little nuances repeated in other kids. It must be comfortable, right? Anyways- looking forward to reading more and getting to know you better.


    1. Thanks so much for your kind words and for stopping by the blog. :) I was wondering about D, laying-on-the-floor posture and that bolt board...and how exactly he was going to use the screwdriver to get those bolts out with his elbows glued to the floor. Well, he ended up using his fingers. He's been unscrewing things like water bottle tops, toothpaste caps, etc. since a VERY young age. Too young...I would have liked a little more warning before he decided to suck down an entire tube of toddler toothpaste! :)

      I need to get out more and check the other bloggers who do what we do! Planning to limit my on-line time, I originally started this blog for my parents. And it is still for them. It is just that other Montessorians have found it too so, I've been answer e-mails and putting in a little bit more description. I'll be sure to comment when I make it over your way!

  5. Where did you come up with all the equations for your boxes? The top of your head, or are they in one of the albums?