Friday, December 6, 2013

Part 2 Week 15 Dec. 2, 2013

It is kind of a monster ice storm hit so many in the US this latter half of this week, we here in the Mid-Atlantic had 70 degree December...Goodness.

Since these posts tend to get lengthy, and I know that some who visit are searching for specific information, I thought I'd put a topics list up here at the beginning. Nothing formal, nothing long, but just a little indicator to tell you that this is the post you were looking for. (I know my blog post titles aren't that descriptive. There is a reason for this.) Anyway, onto the list:

Geography - composition of the earth, pin maps, the rotation of the earth and its consequences
Math - multiplication facts and hundred board
Language - adverb lesson and grammar box
Writing - metal insets--primary

Some days S's hair seems to have a mind of its own. Anyway, here we are revisiting the First Great Lesson demonstration of the weights of different liquids. I've put blue dye in the oil, and the honey I microwaved for 10 seconds right in the bear for better pouring.

Each test tube is filled with a little water, and as the child adds the oil and the honey substances he/she can observe which sink to the bottom of the tube, and which float to the top of the tube. This revisit was preparation for the introduction to the composition of the earth lesson from The Keys of the Universe Album.

Here is my watercolor of the barysphere, the lithosphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere. We talked about how the particles of the earth began in a very hot state, and as they cooled, each sank or floated to the level of the earth that they were supposed to. The heaviest layer is the barysphere, (bary meaning heavy or pressured in Greek) and then the lithosphere. We reviewed that "litho" means stone in Greek. The children also observed that the hydrosphere (hydro meaning water in Greek) and the atmosphere (atmos meaning vapor in Greek) are relatively thin layers compared to the barysphere and the lithosphere and that all are layered according to their weights. 

I also showed them a yardstick and demonstrated that if the length of the yardstick were to extend through the middle of the earth to represent its diameter, that 2/16ths of an inch would represent the lithosphere. 1/16th of an inch would represent the atmosphere and the hydrosphere would be practically invisible it would be so thin.

Here Dylan is beginning to use the metal insets. The child will take the tray, select a piece of paper, (I've cut these down to size, 5"X5" maybe?) and will select a metal inset frame. Each child in our class has his/her own set of Primsa colored pencils, so D selected his. The child will superimpose the metal frame on his piece of paper, and trace the inside form with his pencil. If he wishes, he can trace more than once using more than one color. After he is done, he may put the work away, or write given lines within the figure for further pencil control practice. This work helps the child prepare his hand for writing language.

D seems to be tending lefty and I know someone who will be very happy to hear that. But for this righty, who is also his teacher, it makes modeling a little more difficult. 

He also has these weird thumbs. It is like the first joint is loose and bends back excessively. He ends up using the pad of his thumb, instead of the top part, to support his pencil in a tripod, pincer grasp. And his thumb joint seems to be bent all weird, kind of underneath this index and middle fingers almost toward the palm of his hand. Is this just an immature ligament thing? Is this okay? Will his hand get tired? Is it just too early to tell entirely because he is two and a half? He doesn't seem to mind at all. 

One thing I see in this picture is that he needs his colored pencils cut in half. They are entirely too long for him to be able to manage. Imagine writing with a pen that has a watermelon stuck to the top end of it. Imagine how heavy that would be. Well that is probably how D feels. Humn. How shall I go about this?

You can kind of see his weird thumb in this picture.

Pin maps were a huge hit this week for some reason. Here S has used the control map, and T's help to fit the political flags into all the country capital pin holes. 

For some reason, I don't have a lesson for these. I just haven't gotten there. I know that generally, lower el students focus a bit more on the big picture studying the physical geography of our planet, and that it is usually the upper el students who focus more on the cultural and political geography of the communities that inhabit our planet. But nevertheless, I haven't read anywhere what the official reason is for having the child do these. 

When T started using these he was just coming off a stint in primary where he had made a traced map of every continent, and every political boundary, labeled the whole lot and then laminated this project, AND had finished free-hand drawing all of the political flags for all of the countries across all the continents. So, since he had already had some interest in the flags, and he got that there were control maps, he just went to it, naming each country, and labeling each with its flag. The capital flags that come with these sets, well, he just doesn't use these as much. Though I think after a lesson I am planning for next week, he may have interest and reason to take out those capital flags!

If anyone out there has a source for this...would you send me a note? Thanks.
Update: found a source. My NAMC manuals mention these pin maps at length but the introduction is highly redundant. The lesson is really simple; introduce the child to the pin map, introduce the child to the control map, introduce the child to the pins. Show the child how the pins go in the pin map. Keep the pin maps in an accessible location, and encourage students to work with this material independently. The purpose of this material is memorization of the country flags, country names, and capital cities. There is no real mention of how to integrate this into the rest of the cultural geography curriculum.
The Montessori R&D Geography II album also dedicates an entire half a page to pin maps too. And the lesson reads about the same, with again, no mention of how to integrate this material.

Even D wanted to get in on the action. I am afraid to look and see if any of the holes have been chipped a bit more after this.

In changing around our classroom, in what seems like a constant pace, I've started to put out the pin-map cabinets. You can see that they are bulky, HUGE, and don't stack. I have two more to place somewhere else. HUMN.

I've talked more about the pin map materials here.

Here we did a first lesson on the rotation of the earth and its consequences. We talked about how the earth rotates around the sun, but it also rotates around itself. My impressionistic watercolor illustration attempts were meant to suggest what might happen if the earth did NOT rotate around itself. The one side of the earth that faced the sun would get very, very hot, and the other side that faced away would perpetually experience extreme cold. T & S both agreed that they were glad that the earth rotates. And both had great fun rotating around themselves like the earth.

THIS is what I had in mind for practicing multiplication facts. T knows his addition facts pretty well, but multiplication, that is a little tricky for him. He can skip count, that is count by 5's but he couldn't tell you that 3X5=15. Soooo, I decided to put the skip counting together with the equation, and a little dose of handwriting, on the ever-so-fun-dry-erase-board. 

I made the magnets (TEDIOUS!) by designing a template on the computer, and then laminated the print out. I sanded the backs of the laminated sheets with a 330 grit sand paper and cut the circle tiles out. (Would have loved a paper punch!) Then I hot-glued the magnets to the back of each. The magnets were cut from a roll of strip magnetic tape I had from an old window treatment project. The template magnets are color coded to match the Montessori math beads so the child can easily find all the multiples of 1 through 10. I've created tiles for 1X1 through 10X12. Somehow I remember memorizing through 12X12 as a child. Oh, you can find the template (with simple instructions) on my Elementary Printables Page. 

This first run through we organized the tiles in ascending order, like we were skip counting by 5s. Then we arranged them vertically to the left side of the board. To the right of this column of tiles, T writes his equations, using the tile for the answer. (T is a righty, so if you have a lefty, I'd recommend that you put the column of tiles on the right-hand side of the board, and just write the equation and equal sign to the left of the tile and then shift the tile over if needed.) Then, after completing the equation, he switches the tile to the right of the equal sign. He can see the pattern that emerges as he takes five once, twice, three times, etc. and I think that this makes it easier for him to remember.

After the child can do the above proficiently, have them try to write the equations in random order. Here T is focusing on only 5 equations at once. Again, they can use deductive reasoning a little, "oh, this product is greater than that one, but less than 25, and I've already written 5X5, so this could be 5X4." He wasn't quite there with this exercise. It will come.

You see the red line down the center of the board, and the scribbling going on by his siblings. Yeah, not really choosing works at that moment.

Cleaning up, because looky there, it's on the pen, it is WET - ERASE, not dry erase! 
Again, blogger decided that this image should be sideways. Anyway, this is how we've chosen to organize the little multiplication tile magnets. A tackle box with plenty of dividers and T even took out the extra dividers in the side and placed the markers there instead. He also wrote an index card tag that he places under the front cover, so that he knows at a glance what is inside.

Grammar time! T put all the solids in their corresponding slots in the Adverb Grammar Box.

So, let's see, we've talked about the black pyramid and how pyramids are old and they represent one of the oldest parts of speech, the noun. Then we talked about the noun family which includes the article (or the little limb that hangs off the noun) and the adjective which gives us more information about our noun. Both symbols are smaller pyramids and they need to stick close to the noun pyramid.

Then there is the verb which is represented by a red sphere. This red sphere, like the sun, which gives life to our earth, gives life and action to our sentences. And earlier in the week we introduced the preposition, which links our nouns and lets us know something about where they each are in relation to one another. NOW, we introduce the adverb. (As soon as I said "adverb" T asked, "when are we going to do the conjunction?)

Above is the adverb grammar box, and the word cards that compose the sentence on the sentence strip that is in the box. T is bringing out the grammar symbols that correspond to each word card before setting them in the grammar box slots.

I wrote about the grammar card issue here. Just let me tell you they are a TON of work. Cheaper, but a ton of time, and a lot of hand-cramping-from-cutting-laminate-for-hours-on-end. I kid you not, I had a dream last night about cutting up laminated grammar cards of different colors. Ugh. 

The above is a sentence that T constructed by himself playing around with the word cards in the adverb box 6-1. And you can see he really wanted to add a conjunction, "and." How DOES the work space become so messy?
We then did a little adverb command work. Here I told them to swing slowly.

Here they are swinging fast.

And I don't know what they are doing here.

Or here...

A video of our adverb silliness.

I keep thinking D's head is going to swing off. And I like how everyone uses their very hygienic elbow to prevent others from catching their "cold."

Reviewing the video of our adverb silliness. 
Note to self: video on the video camera comes out way better than video on the iPhone.

S declared herself a reader! She is reading to her "baby" aka, favorite-stuffed-animal-in-all-the-universe. She read 15 beginning reader books to her Baby today. All on her own. With no help. With no fussing and no crying. I was working with T and I suggested she read by herself, and be sure to sound out each part aloud. She did just that, and declared herself a reader!

I listened in about halfway through and she was sounding out each part, slowly putting the words together to make sentences, flipping the pages, and really reading. It is amazing what happens when you just step away a little.

These illustrations are from our Keys of the Universe Album the rotation of the earth and its consequences. The watercolor on the left illustrates the rotation of the earth and how its position in relation to the sun determines the time of day: dawn; noon; sunset; or night. 

The watercolor on the right, illustrates the approximate temperatures of the earth as it is exposed to light, and then to darkness. The earth surface is coldest in the morning because this part of the earth has been away from the sun's warm rays the longest. The hottest part of the day is just after noon, when the sun's warmth has been soaking into the earth's surface for the longest time. 

I suspect that there is a little more that goes on here about the angle at which the sun enters the atmosphere and how this affects the intensity of the sun's rays...but that is saved for a different lesson.

We talked a little today about Nelson Mandela, who passed away yesterday, and what he had spend his entire life doing for the rest of the world, and South Africa in particular. 

The NAMC manuals talk about the importance of introducing the children to varied peace makers who have dedicated their lives to humane and truthful causes. Peace is a strong theme in the elementary Montessori curriculum, and I have read it comes from Montessori's thoughts about war and fighting having lived through the world wars.  

On my to-do list for the holiday break is to focus on D, and what he needs to be doing at this stage. Here I've made him a quick set of matching cards. The theme here is construction vehicles which is one of his favorites.

Not sure how this came about, but that is the beauty of it all. To T's left is a book about the Antarctic. He is drawing a picture of the snowy owl similar to that one in the book. He kept telling me that he didn't like the other birds that would eat baby penguins.

I helped him out with this bird a little bit. We went over how the body of the owl could look like two intersecting ovals, and when you erase the intersection, you get a rough outline of the entire bird. We also approximated the mid-line, and the quarter-line in this case, to find the location of the eye and the beak, and then T filled in the rest of the page with other details.

The kids were just exploring the books today, and S came upon this. Figures that this would be her favorite page in the Rocks and Minerals book. When she was about 18 months old, we visited the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. where the Hope Diamond was on display. It is a 45?? ct. blue diamond from India?? Anyway, my husband picked her up so that she could see the gem stone through the bullet proof enclosure, with the guard at the door standing behind them. She said, "pittteeee! WAAAN IT!" I told her it was said to bring bad luck to who ever owns it, and she then simply found better bling in the other room where there were crowns, scepters and other jewels from various European royalty on display.

 S's gemstones and a monster. She said that she didn't have the right colors to draw the other gemstones. I guess it is time to do some color mixing.
D is isn't trying to get the bead ON to the string, he is trying to get the bead OFF the string. Even though this work tends to get swung, I think I am going to leave it on the shelf with some tough instructions. 

D did NOT know how to un-string the bead. Even after we switched his hands, bead in right, string in left, he didn't remember the second time that is how you get the bead off the string. Interesting.

My husband left for work wicked early the kids stayed in PJs. 
And here S is experiencing centripetal force.

And here D is loving the demonstration.
Smelling bottles. I talk more about these here. I noticed that recently D has been siting in this side-sit position. I am wondering if that is comfortable since I can barely get into that position myself. Nevertheless, he is usually prone to that ever-bad-for-the-joints W-sitting position, so I am not questioning the benefit of him doing the side-sit.

His sister is taking a picture of him with the kid-camera, and he is hamming it up a bit.

Magic Tree House. S is looking at the pictures.

D is looking at the pictures too.

After patiently waiting for Noona to finish with the Hundred Board D got his turn here. I wrote more about this work here. 

Oh, and you know what I just figured out? I just realized that the lines aren't miss aligned, they are just a very quirky. I am a righty. So as I would place the tiles down from left to right, I'd probably align them left-justified, pushing each tile to the left a bit as I lay them down. This board has a little space on the outerside of what should be the right most column (in this picture, you see it as the right-most column, but to D it is the left-most column) so you can get the tiles up out of the frame. If you have the board "upside down" the gap will be on the left side, and as a righty, I push the tiles against the left side, and it looks like the grid lines are misaligned. So that means that there is a right side up, and wrong side up to this board, and the child must know that somehow by looking carefully at the four equally brown, unlabeled edges of the board?? Heck, I am an adult and it just dawned on me that this is the case.

And that "wiggle room" erked the heck out of D. He hated that the tiles slid slightly and got misaligned so easily.

 It was well after the time we usually adjourn to go outside, and run around, but this little guy spent 40 minutes placing all the tiles on the board, one by one, and then put all the tiles back in the box one by one.
Here he is wiggling those tiles around and admiring his work. (In case you were wondering, no he didn't put them on the board in ascending order, or descending because he was doing it bottom to top.)

And that's it. Have a good weekend.


  1. These children have so much fun!

    You asked about the pin maps. I was *really* surprised to find there was no official album page for them (via AMI). Their purpose is memorization - whether that is place-names, flags, etc. There is one little blurb about them in the geography album - that's all.

    1. Hi! It is good to hear from you again, and thanks for the tip there about the pin maps. I thought about it a little more and realized that I had seen them mentioned in the NAMC manual. There is a 4-5 page lesson about them, but in true NAMC fashion, it is really the same introduction repeated three times, once for the country flags, once for the country names, and once for the capitals. The lesson goes something like, show the child the pin map, show them the control map, show them the pins. Show the child that they can stick the pins in the map, and if they need a reminder about where one goes, to look at the control map. They also note some of the obvious, like the child can work independently with this material, and to keep it in a location that is accessible to the children. They talk about the pin map sets I have, one where there is a single continent in the cabinet, and we really go over only the three pins. There is no mention in the lower el manuals about the other pins for land and water forms. The aim is to aid in memorization like you said.

      The Geography II lower el Montessori R&D manual dedicates one page to pin maps, and that page isn't even filled. They illustrate a similar lesson introduction to the NAMC manual, but give you less about when to do these and how to integrate this material into everything else you are doing.

      And yes, the children did have a wonderful time with the adverb. It is fantastic to see someone enjoy grammar so much.

  2. What a GREAT week! As you know, I'm feeling like a human pin cushion over here making my own pin maps. I'm really envious of how much you got done last week. We are such slowpokes over here.

    I have a tip on stacking cabinets if you find you might want to do it at some point. I have occasionally stacked my geometric and botany cabinets which are of similar design. I make a "U" with 2x4 scrap lumber. It doesn't have to be 2x4, it should be whatever size it needs to be to do the job. You want to set the "u" on top of the bottom cabinet. It should be on its side, open part toward the front. The wood will be tall enough to stick up above the walls on the top of the cabinet. Then you can set the second cabinet on top. The bottom walls or "legs" of that cabinet will come down over the wood that is sticking up. If you use just the right size lumber, the "U" will be touching the top of one cabinet and the bottom of the other and the "walls" of each will look like they are resting on one another. You could keep doing this and keep stacking if you wanted.

    Sorry, it's hard to describe. I picture would be better.

  3. I'm just took pictures and am blogging about it right now. (Kal-El is crying because he doesn't want to practice violin. I'll give him time to cool off.)

  4. His temperature was 101. That explains the unusual refusal to play the violin. What a DAY!

  5. Your charts are beautiful. Do you paint them all yourself? If you do, what is your secret to painting such perfect circles? Watercolor is so unforgiving. :)

    1. Thank you so much for your compliment! I did do all the watercolor myself, though I copied what was in the Keys of the Universe albums.

      Watercolor can be unpredicable if you let it be. I drafted the outline forms in pencil on watercolor paper and then lined them in black Sharpie, which doesn't bleed. Then for a hard edge, I used a relatively dry brush and I made sure that the surrounding paper was dry as well. If I needed a hard edge over another color, I let the first color layer dry completely before adding a second line. (Think central air vent or light fan.) If I had a large area to wash, but I needed a hard edge, I would "paint" the form with water first, making sure that the edges were crisp and then add pigment, blending it in and letting it run to the "edge" of the water.

      More water, the more the pigment will move around. Less water, the more the pigment will stay saturated in one spot. Also, if you need a sharp edge, always start with a completely dry surface, and a relatively dry brush.

      As for the circle forms, I traced a bowl I think. :)