Thursday, March 20, 2014

Part 1, Wk 9 March 17, 2014

I was sick last week, and I was still sick the beginning of this week. A head cold. I didn't get a lot done on any front, except a lot of dragging myself here and there. We homeschooling moms don't get sick days.

Anyway, I am hoping that after a snowy Monday start to a busy week that my energy will... well, re-energize. 
D started off with the geometric cabinet demonstration tray. (The tray pictured above isn't the demonstration tray and it isn't complete, there should be a sixth circle, not a blank square.) I showed little D how to trace the perimeter of the inset with his left pointer and middle finger before tracing the perimeter of the yellow cut out and replacing the figure inside the cut out. He did this very easily with each figure before replacing the tray back in the cabinet.

This sensorial work prepares the child for future geometry work and for future handwriting (nomenclature will be introduced later).

S is still working on those lefty cutting skills. Here she is cutting out paper dolls. Her tripod pencil grip has come a long way since we started using lefty scissors. And yes, it could have been practice and time that helped her improve as well.
Still working on these pin maps! VERY close to done. More on this subject in a later.
In an effort to get to the algebraic peg board lessons, T sat down and did the Calculation of Multiples tables a and b, and the Table of Factors c, both pages, in a couple of hours. My KotU albums say that this is work should take the child a few days to complete. Not for T. When there is a goal, like the peg board, there is a will and a way. I hope that these multiplication tables are a bit more fixed up there in his brain. I pulled out the bead bars for this this, but he didn't want to use them. He prefers his fingers when he is skip counting.

These tables may look like worksheets, but I believe their point is a little different. There is no drill. The child can use whatever manipulative material, or fingers, to complete the problems. And these tables will be used as a reference and control for later lessons.
Here S is tracing her sandpaper letters with her eyes closed. This makes a HUGE difference in her ability to hand write them on paper with a pencil. After a few sandpaper letter tracings, she can write the letter proficiently. (We use very small pieces of paper. Like 1/8 of a piece of copy paper, on which you can only fit three letters.) You can also see her hand trace the sandpaper letters with more confidence, and refined movement. She was never able to write these letter forms on paper after tracing them with her eyes open. I wrote more about this in this post.
This is a brown stair extension lesson. Before this lesson, the child will already be able to remove the brown stair from the shelf and build it independently from random order on a single work rug.

In this lesson, we moved the brown stair from the shelf to the the first work rug and set it down in random order. We set up another rug on the other side of our shelving island, out of sight from the first rug. Then we built the brown stair on the second rug one piece at a time.

First we assessed which piece of all the pieces on the first rug was the "largest." We took that piece and began building the stair on the second rug on the other side of the shelving island. Then we looked at the remaining pieces on the first rug and selected the second "largest" piece to continue our build. Several times D selected an incorrect piece and each time he noticed that it was incorrect when he compared his selection with the rest of the completed stair. This material is control of error is the child, so he/she must be able to see visual discord and that the shapes do not graduate correctly.

There is an awful lot of walking to and fro during this lesson. I can see why this the perfect activity for the little ones with lots of energy. This little guy worked with lots of focus and concentration.

For reference, D started his Montessori training informally at home 6 months ago in September 2013. He has never had any traditional classroom training. He is now 2 years and 9 months old, and his two older siblings have had formal Montessori training.

 Carrying the brown stair prisms on your head is not a requirement.

 He likes to "walk down" the stairs to compare their dimensions.
And this always happens too. I am very glad we don't have to share these stairs with anyone else. I wonder if I hadn't called them stairs if he would have thought that they were something to walk down, though he does prefer to feel things with his feet.
He also constructed the pink tower in the same way as the traditional first lesson.

D did the metal insets and just astounded me. I didn't even see him do these. But I asked him and he said that he had done them. I wrote more about when to introduce metal insets in this post. I had thought that he was too young to do the metal insets, but this example may have proved me wrong.

I guess all those stairs, walking around the shelving island, building the pink tower, and handwriting really tired him out.

S invented these new characters the "Super Puppies." She writes it "Soopr Pupesz." Everyone has a mask and a cape. I am eager to read more about their adventures. 
This is S's new amaryllis, with the crazy Spanish moss "hair" around the top of it.
T is working on factors now. I haven't gotten the feeling that he understands quite what a factor IS yet. He is comfortable with the geometric representation, but gives me this blank look when I ask, so what are the factors for 12? There is time yet to understand everything.

He as able to follow the lesson and break down 30 and find all of its prime factors using the peg board for assistance.
At first glance this may not really seem like the Dwyer reading scheme, nor that this activity has anything to do with reading at all. But it does. S, the girl who doesn't like to read, read upwards of 30 words. All were verbs, written in cursive, on little slips of paper and she had to "crack the code" and "perform the action." "Cracking the code" made her puff up with pride. "Performing the action" made her laugh like a crazy person and fall down.

I can see now how these kinds of command card activities really catch the attention of the child, and how this kind of exercise really demonstrates the communication element of writing and reading. We are communicating each time we write something down and hoping someone will "hear" our thoughts without us ever speaking them aloud. I believe the fact that language is for communication is one of the intrinsic notions that is lost in the traditional educational frenzy. In the traditional education setting so much of the focus is on the mechanics and not the reason why children might learn how to read and write in the first place.
I hope that in between falling down these children understood that I was trying to communicate with them. 


  1. We are about ready to dip into all that factors work, although it seems very similar to the work we've already done in the memorization sequence. PERFECT. Overlap would be great. Kal-El will love the peg board. Right now we are playing division and multiplication games. Kal-El had a meltdown because he got through the division boards up to the blank bingo board and got really mad when he realized he hadn't memorized all the division equations. He refused to use the finger board to help himself and had a mad fit. He told me I was a horrible teacher and to pack my suitcase and move out. (Needless to say, there was some discipline involved for this behavior. No, I don't let my kids tell me I'm doing a bad job and should find somewhere else to live.) I kept saying, "Kal-El, there are five different ways we can solve this problem." However, he wasn't interested in solutions that day. One day later, after my husband got a hold of him and after an apology he asked to see the solutions. One of them was a division game from RFDE and he was hooked. He spent three hours on division equations that day crowing "Aren't I good at division Mom?" Honestly. I don't know why my family refuses to listen to me when I'm right. Sigh. Me Too was jealous that he didn' t have a "game" for his multiplication boards so I made him a RFDE game too. They are using the finger boards right along with them when necessary (I told them it was in the written "rules" and of course added that to the written rules, otherwise they would call it 'cheating' and wouldn't use them). Anyway, both boys have been spending hours playing the games and using the finger boards now so I'm hoping the factors work will go smoothly. Seeing you guys doing it gets me all ready and raring to go.

    Me Too would love hanging out with your daughter. He loved those command words just as much.

    1. Are you already doing the peg board? T really really likes the board. I don't like the pegs so much, they are cumbersome to take out when you need to exchange. (I like the racks and tubes because you just scoop them up really fast, but these pegs we pull them two at a time.) And the black strips of paper are hard to move around too. BUT that being said, T had no problem counting to 168 in his LCM lesson.
      I am interested to hear what you think Kal El's experience is like now that he is very familiar (if not having them memorized) with all his math facts. T is so far from remembering all his math facts it isn't funny.
      We had done other math facts games a while back, but they weren't ready and they weren't very interested. I am glad to see that these activities have caught on with your guys. I am sure they are benefiting much more than mine did.

      That would be so awesome for all five to be able to do command words too. Pretty hilarious too I am betting.

  2. Looks like so much fun over there!

    I hope you feel better quickly ;)

    1. Thank you, I am finally feeling better, after lots of korean soups and low productivity, it is nice to feel a bit better. The kiddos took the day off today from "school time to go do another very important thing, explore out of doors. It is 33 degrees, but they are having a ball. I read this article about giving children a bit more social and developmental kind of made me think of my childhood and how I spent my free time.

  3. I'm interested to see when other families are getting to certain works, especially following a different set of albums than we are. Granted we didn't really do Montessori math for a couple years so Aidan did this sequence at the beginning of this year instead of last, but Factorization is the first topic in our Upper Elementary (9-12) Math album. Obviously your kids are ready for it so I wonder if you are just working more quickly through the other works when pacing is not dictated by a group or if they are actually in a different place in the KOTU albums.

    MBT- My albums talk about how most of the factor work should feel familiar because of the work in multiples and that the major mental task is transitioning the vocabulary. We definitely found this to be true and Aidan worked through it more quickly than the album seemed to think he would.

    1. Hi! well one kid was ready, the oldest, who is turning 8 this year. (He repeated his third year of primary, so he is technically a year behind.) He does really well with most all math concepts so his ability to capture the crux of the peg board wasn't a surprise. In the KotU albums, this is somewhat in the middle of the first chapter sequence. T has been exposed to all of preceding lessons, but maybe hasn't completely mastered them all. I think the lessons went something like wooden hierarchical material (4 lessons) LBF orientation (4 lessons) commutative and distributive laws (8 lessons) and multiples of numbers (5 lessons) and then we get to the LCM lesson, and after this factors. Wow, when I write it out like that it seems like a lot. It didn't seem like that much, but he did just kind of get it each time. The KotU albums do say that to get to abstraction, the factors work can take a couple of years. I don't know if we'll take that long, it just depends on how fast he wants to go.

      We haven't been focusing on other parts of the cosmic curriculum as much yet. Math has been a big focus because T likes it so much, and S needed a lot of remedial help. That is one reason why we could be doing more work leading to factors.