Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Part 1 Wk 3, January 20, 2014

This week we started out with a day off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and then, a snow day. Well, the rest of the county schools took a snow day but this homeschool was in session.

In one day of school, I took 70 + photos. How does that happen? Maybe I was trying to make up for the fact that this post contains only a single school day. Or maybe it was the kids really took to the lesson and their work today. Maybe it was because my husband was home and little D just floated in and out as he wished and wasn't as much of a ham/distraction to the other two children. I don't know, but here we go with the whole lot of photos.

What we did so far this week:
Math: telling time, Addition Strip game, patterning
History: Fundamental Needs of Humans
Language: Sandpaper letters?!? 
Practical Life: Table washing
Sensorial: Pink tower, brown stairs, puzzles
Other: the amaryllis is growing, and the fungus gnats are mostly gone!!
THIS is why we homeschool. Laying on the floor, engrossed in a book of his choice, researching a project he selected and a report he designed, in his own classroom without color coded instructions, not being able to talk to your neighbor, and needing to sit still = priceless.
It all started with this: The Fundamental Needs of Humans chart from the Keys of the Universe History album. I printed out these icons from the KotU History album - supplement, (found on the discussion boards) cut them out, pasted them onto poster board (albeit the wrong side) and used Sharpie markers to fill in the labels and lines. Note to self: sharpies write best on the shiny side!

I started off our very informal conversation with this general chart and we discussed why we would need some of these things to survive. What purpose do they serve? How do we use them? Do we use them, or do we know others who use them? If we don't use these things, what do we use?

Then we discussed other items that could be on the chart but were missing and examples of some of the items on the chart. (Like, what kinds of animals do we use for transportation: elephants, donkeys, camels, horses, dogs, etc.)
Then we continued on to our need for food specifically, and again T and S were able to name many more examples that weren't on the chart. T suggested some people eat crickets. S said "ewww!" I suggested he make a new icon and add it to the chart. And then his new project was born. He decided to make an entire new chart with other edibles on it. (These icons are also from the KotU History supplemental album. I printed them and pasted them onto poster board, this time the right side. And I drew the rest of the connecting lines with a Sharpie pen. Afterward I laminated them with clear contact paper on both sides.)

First, he used our geometry cabinet inset for a circle template.
Then he drew his cricket, and a tarantula, on each icon and pasted them to the contact paper-laminated chart and labeled it with a Sharpie pen. (I must admit my heart skipped a beat, or seven, as he was modifying MY chart, but I took a deep breath and TRIED to let it go. It was a good conversation starter and he really felt like he was part of the process.)

After his initial cricket and tarantula additions, he went to work looking through a lot of books for other foods humans eat. He designed his own icons, drawing and coloring away, and cut them out for his own chart.

Here he has overlaid his icons under the category headings.

T decided to do this project exclusively today, which also made me kind of itchy. I like it when they are able to do multiple works and budget their time well. But this was a first for him. He was enthusiastic, resourceful, and self-motivated, so I let him go. I'd really like to see a product out of this, but we'll see what he comes up with. Maybe he is a worker like me. I like to work on one project and get it done. Then I'll work on the next thing. Maybe he will move on once he is finished and we'll work on the time-management thing slowly.

S is still practicing her paper cutting each day. Today she decided to make her "Honey Bear" a fringed crown with a pink feather.

I purchased these cards a few weeks back and didn't realize that the little plastic bears we already have don't go with this. So after purchasing the "very-expensive-because-it-was-from-a-teacher's-store" plastic bears, I was able to give this activity to D. It is just basic patterning which D was doing today with his right hand AND his left hand.

S couldn't remember what "ai" says. (ā) Anyway, we went backward from Dwyer sound booklets to double sandpaper letters and the 3 period lesson. 

The three period lesson is how we frequently introduce nomenclature to the child. Typically, I'd introduce three letter forms in one lesson. First I'd introduce the first sandpaper double letter, trace it with my index and middle finger as if I were writing the symbols, and say it's sound. Then I'd let S trace the letter and say it's sound. After I have introduced all of the sandpaper double letters, and am confident that she can trace them correctly and say their name, we move to the second period. 

In the second period lesson I'd ask S, "which double letters make the sound, "ā"? I supply the nomenclature and she visually demonstrates which form it is. This isn't a time for me to verbally correct her. So I would not say, "no, that says, "ch." Instead, if she indicated the incorrect letter form I'd simply request her to identify another sound, or we'd go back to the first period in which I'd model for her which sound goes with which letter symbols. 

After S can confidently identify each sound I ask for, we move to the third period where I would ask, "what sound does this letter form make?" as I point to the "ai" letter form. If she can't identify which sound that letter form makes, we'd go back to the second period to "review." Most of the time, with careful observation, the guide will not press the student forward until he/she is ready and able to succeed at the next level.
At the end of the day, S finished all of her "responsibility" works and I thought she was going to defect to the upstairs to be with Daddy who was home because we are supposed to get 10" of snow. But no, S went to the shelves and selected this telling time work. I augmented the project with a stamp pad and a clock stamp and she set to work drawing each on-the-hour-clock face.

Then she discovered that one of our half-hour clock faces matched the real clock perfectly.
This was our little fungus gnat experiment. Since we have all indoor plants, and terrible clay soil outside which I don't harvest, I purchase potting soil and seedling mix. The germinating mix is of course sterile, but the potting mix, well not so much. I think THAT is how we ended up with this nuisance that flies up in your face each time you water the plants.

ANYWAY, I was reading about how to get rid of these little pets, and one growers message board suggested cinnamon. Apparently, cinnamon oil is a strong fungicide and these little buggers like to eat fungus. When you take away their food source, you get rid of them. We sprinkled every soil surface lightly and watered it in last Friday and by Saturday evening, no gnats. BUT they were back on Monday evening. So we sprinkled and watered again, and are crossing our fingers that we aren't burning our plants, and hopefully they'll be gone again. I've heard that chamomile tea also works, but we haven't tried this yet.

This is a week's worth of growth. S is VERY VERY excited about this. 

Why must we touch the plants? The kids love touching the plants all the time. I hope the plants like it just as much.
   More touching of the plants.
D is sitting on a few of his new puzzles, that were new for only a few days. After one long weekend he can now put together all four of his 24-piece puzzles by himself, each in less than 5 minutes.
D here is table washing, using a nail brush, with his right hand!! 
A paleontologist in the making.
Again, BLOGGER... Anyway, this is the Square of Pythagoras. In primary, children will do the square this way, with strips of colored wood/plastic/felt/paper/fabric, etc. In elementary, the child may revisit this lesson using the colored beads like T did here.

S got almost everything right. She constructed it not "facing up" because as we figured out being a lefty, she is constantly bumping into the rectangles already set up, and thus pushing everything out of order. So, when we rotated the orientation, this didn't happen. I did not introduce it to her in this fashion, as you see above which is upside down, simply because we don't read from right to left, we read left to right. Instead, her side-ways 90 degree rotation meant that she first graded from top to bottom on the left side, and then finished the construction from largest to smallest from left to right.
S also chose the addition strip board today. She proudly told me she has one page left in her first addition booklet.

Since everyone else was getting work tickets, D wanted some too. So I made him a few that were printed photos of his work that I then cut and laminated. 

His system is a little different than T's and S's. If he chooses a particular work he can put up that work ticket. If he chooses a different work that doesn't have a ticket, well he can't put that one up. But he doesn't have to do all the works in all of his tickets. Heck, he doesn't even have to do any of them.
 "My tickets! MORE tickets!"
In making more work tickets for D, I needed a few more shots of him doing works! So we did the pink tower...with our right hand!

And we did the brown stairs. This ALWAYS happens with the brown stairs. I am sort of glad he doesn't need to share this work with anyone else.

And this was my attempt at getting a shot of the geometric solids. But instead, it turned into a blast-off trip around the island.

This shot was taken on a separate occasion, but these occasions pop up so frequently it might as well have been in the classroom.


  1. A thought on D using both hands - not a researched one, just one from experience with my own children - I have had more than one use both hands for quite some time, although I remember well my oldest (little mama) using both hands interchangeably until she was at least three. I really wondered how long she would go on before finding a favored side, and I guess by the time we started preschool at 4, she had, because she was writing exclusively with her left hand. So it may just be that he hasn't found his niche yet with what side he's going to have - or ambidextrous, which would be wonderful (and maybe a lot of work - I don't know - I wonder if you have to teach them to write with both hands???). A good note - she has, so far, picked up the fastest out of all of mine with reading, and loves to write - maybe there's something there, maybe it's coincidence. Who knows....

    I also think it's hilarious that he walks the brown stair... Buddy boy just puts it together and thinks the whole point of the work is so he can take the smallest prism and check his work...over, and over, and over again!

    1. S didn't choose a hand till 3-4 yrs also. All this handed stuff has me in a tizzy. :)
      He always holds a writing implement with his left, but he switches frequently for nearly every other activity. We'll see how this all shakes out. He still has a bit more time by anyone's book.
      And yes, the brown stair and those little feet. My husband thinks he uses them as stairs because they are called stairs. I wonder if he would walk on them if I had called them brown prisms. (Though he has had a history of loving sensorial input through his feet. We were visiting a friend's home and he poured out a few of their tubes from racks and tubes and just stepped all over the little beads feeling with them with his feet. He also likes to do this with the rough and smooth boards.)

    2. a question I thought of later - did you make your square of pythagoras, or purchase it?

    3. Ah, yes, I think I forgot to post that tid bit.I purchased ours from Montessori Outlet. I don't remember how much it was but it is certainly something that one can make. I think I purchased it because I was swimming in grammar cards at the time, and I wanted to make sure I had an appropriate box to store it all in. Oh, and because I don't like craft foam. I just have an aversion to the smell, and the feel, and of course that I felt it would have been the best material to use to make this item.

      The quality from Montessori Outlet is so-so. This material came to us fine. I think the pieces are painted plastic, and while the paint hasn't chipped, when you run your nail across, it does visibly scratch, that is, all the pieces except the golden ones. Not all the way through, but in the finish you can see a line when the light bounces off. It doesn't seem to bother S, but it bothers me. :)

  2. I can't believe you let him write with a permanent marker on the chart you made! Great job though, following the child in great action! I think I am going to have nightmares tonight!!!

    1. Right!! I felt like I was going to throw-up in that instant. Oh our perfectionist personalities get the better of us sometimes. He is in the middle of making his own Fundamental Needs-Food chart and the spacing of his tiles is a little off. I have had to bite my tongue a couple of times to keep from correcting him. I just repeat in my head, "it is HIS work! it is HIS work!"
      BTW, it is great to have you blogging again!

  3. You all did some great work this week.
    You should be very proud of yourself for handing over your chart to your child so that it could become his work. It can be hard, especially with how much time/energy goes into putting all this material together. Its so great that T got into it and went so far with his project on his own.
    S did a great job with that square of pythagorias, what a big work, especially for a lefty!
    I love that D insisted on having his own work tickets! I can see my little one jumping into our classroom soon too. She already wants to do everything her big brother does.

    1. Thanks! Oh him writing on my chart...My heart almost stopped beating, but my mind always reasoned if I need to present it again, either I can make a new chart, OR, he can always see his valid addition. I think he's been watching too much Bizzare Foods on the travel channel.
      Hope things are going more smoothly for you!

  4. I just loved seeing the Fundamental Need charts used and followed up EXACTLY like albums suggest they will. Is your son secretly reading the albums at nice so he knows how a lovely, normalized Montessori child should proceed :)

    1. Oh goodness, I WISH he was reading the albums. I'd give him the theory one FIRST!!

      I think he liked the picture part of it, and teaching the "charting" part has been a bit of a challenge. It was the why we organize the chart the way we do, and what the title, headings and subheadings mean. The other funny thing is that his chart contains the two areas he eats most. Fruits/nuts, water and meats. No flowers, stems, leaves, or roots. BUT these categories don't display samples of things he DOES eat. Like water-chestnuts, or raspberries, or venison....I'll show you what he came up with later today. :) I was surprised that he didn't do defense first. He might next, but I think again with the food chart he had a model to follow. :)

      Girl, you are putting us all to shame this week with your genius posts! Your kiddos are awesome! (And of course you are a pretty smart cookie!)