Saturday, March 22, 2014

Part 2 Wk 9, March 20, 2014

Happy Spring to You!

I am still sniffling and attached to the tissue box, but my energy seems to be coming back slowly. Lots of tea is helping.

Somehow with the illness I am not taking as many photos. Maybe the sniffles keep me from shooting clear stills in low light. 

Anyhow, this is what we've been up to otherwise.
Math: multiples using the algebraic peg board
Language: command cards, grammar box work, vocabulary development
Geography: time zones chart
Walking on the line and other toddler antics
Okay, I figured out why T wasn't getting the prime factors stuff. It was because we had skipped a step. The instructions for creating Chart C, from the KotU math album, indicate that you should underline each prime factor with a red pencil. So we did that. I explained to T that a factor is only divisible by it itself and one. T defines a factor as a number that has no other multiplication problems after it; as in, nothing times nothing can equal that number. (For example we recorded 6 = 3*2 on Chart C.  6 is not a prime number because something times something does equal 6 (something other than one). On Chart C after the number 3, there are no such equations, thus indicating to T that 3 is a prime number.)

So after that was taken care of I realized that we had skipped the first multiples lesson using the algebraic peg board and had done the factors lesson first. So we skipped back and did the multiples lesson.
In this lesson we are finding the least common multiple (LCM) for three numbers. This lesson is a continuation of the work of multiples and common multiples, or in our case, the work we did with Charts A, B and C. The lesson in our album (KotU) suggest we find the LCM for 2, 3, and 4 first. In these photos, T is finding the LCM for 6, 7, and 8. It is 168. 
In the initial stage, (sorry, really fell off the horse with the photos, these are really not illustrative of the lesson) we began by inserting 6 green pegs in the first column, 7 green pegs in the second column, and 8 green pegs in the third column. (This description is not a first lesson description. The LCM for {2,3,4} is much simpler to construct than the LCM for {6,7,8}.) Then we look and see that the three columns are not equal in length or quantity. So we add pegs in sets of 6, 7, or 8 to the column that is most lacking until the columns are equal in length and quantity. 

In T's problem he got very excited about the exchanging. In his problem he had the opportunity to use all three hierarchies of pegs. You'll notice around the time you get to 5 sets of 6 green pegs you run out of room to build your column on the board. (The board contains 30 holes in a vertical column pattern and there are 30 columns on the board. Somehow this makes the board just a tad bit to large to be a comfortable work when you have seven-year-old arms.) This means you need to exchange at some point to note quantities larger then 30. One blue peg equals ten green pegs. So you would exchange each set of 10 green pegs for one blue peg which is what T did in each of these photos you see.
Here in the right most column he is counting by 6's. He is in the middle of an exchange perhaps, because he has only 20 represented in that column, or two blue pegs. In his middle column, he is counting by 7s. He has represented 35 pegs here and had to exchange 30 green pegs for 3 blue pegs. 

The little black strips are a short lived material in this lesson. Typically they are used to divide the sets. You would put a little black strip between sets of 6 green pegs. After while, you don't need them any longer and the child will remember what is a full set. 
Here T is up to 60+ and still adding sets of 6, 7, and 8 to try to make the columns equal in length and quantity. 
Finally T got to a point where he had 10 blue pegs. He immediately lit up and realized that he needed to exchange them for a red 100 peg. Then we kept going until I used my iPhone to figure out how high we needed to count...LCM {6,7,8} = 168. 

T liked this lesson much better than the factors lesson. I wonder if he'll like the factors lesson better the second time he sees it. Oh, and I think that we ordered this material from Montessori Outlet and the quality of everything is satisfactory.
 Independent geometric solid exploration.
This is little D's favorite little buddy.
And here are little D's vocabulary objects. We play little games after he knows all of the names of the objects. I'll ask him which ones are edible, which ones are alive, which ones live in the water, which ones fly in the air, which ones are smooth, or which ones are hard. We might do a preposition game like, "please put the octopus in the basket." We aren't focusing on key sounds yet, just vocabulary development. I rotate these objects each week and play different games with him almost daily. Sometimes T or S will play these games with him as well.

I collected these objects from various places over the last year. We ordered some from Montessori Services and Safari Toobs, and I collected many from the kid's toy sets. The tin is from a local thrift store.
This also made it into our day somehow. D picked this getup out all by himself. He is looking into a lamp that we were using to shine on the sandpaper globe. (The light was turned off.)

This was the other part of that lamp fiasco. S and I were working on the Time Zone Chart from the KotU geography. She has been present at all our elementary geography lessons this year, but for some reason this one didn't stick. I will not go into the lesson too much here, since I am going to have to present this one again, but generally, we were talking about simplified time zones and who is experiencing breakfast, lunch and dinner while we are in our schoolroom. 

Those little disks at the top of the map are wooden circles from the craft store and I just punched out printed clocks showing the time on the hour, color coded them with a sharpie, and Mod-Podged them on. The map I downloaded from the KotU discussion boards, pasted it to poster board and laminated it with contact paper. The black strips are to denote nighttime hours and I cut these out of black poster board. The album indicates that we should place white strips over the regions experiencing daylight, but I wasn't sure why we wouldn't want to see the actual regions experiencing daylight. Why cover them with white poster board strips if the focus here is the relationship between the time of day and the map zones?
Anyway because the concept wasn't 'sticking', we moved on to a free form project; "lets illustrate our day." After drawing illustrations of the activities we do during the day and night I figured we'd assign times to them, and then look to see what other people around the world in other time zones are doing at the same time we are doing our activities. I think this might get us back to this lesson and then we can revisit the map and the clock faces.
 It took this...
 and this....
 and this...
and this...
to get to this. T is still finding errors and omissions.
 I finally replaced the blue line on the floor of the classroom this week, and look who was first to get on.

Here he is running a little bit which is not so wonderful in the classroom.
We have been working on command cards this week from the Dwyer booklet sequence. After the child has learned all the symbols that correspond to our key 40+ English sounds, and has had ample time to write, we move to reading. S is a beginning reader for sure, but I think it may be more a matter of confidence than remembering the sounds. These command cards are most certainly boosting her confidence. 

In this lesson, I am writing the words right in front of her so the element of communication is still present. I say something like, "do you know what I am thinking? I am going to let you know what I am thinking without even speaking a word." Then I write in my silly cursive what I am thinking (it is difficult to write in a straight line and with even strokes while sitting on the floor with three children crowding around in anticipation) taking care that to include only phonetic words, words with the key phonogram sounds and puzzle words we've learned. S read the message above and then with her brothers promptly engaged in the following...
Yes, language can be fun and silly.

The other things we did this week, which for some reason I didn't get to photograph:
T has been working hard with the bells and can grade the C major scale bells proficiently. (He will shuffle the order of the 8 bells in the C major scale and then put them in order from lowest to highest by comparing them to each other. In T's case, typically only tapping each bell once.) He has good tone recognition and even can identify the middle C and high C with a single tap intermingled among other tones. There is a matching exercise he does where he separates five brown bells, taps one, remembers the tone, walks around the classroom, talks with someone, and then finds the matching white bell which is standing on the bell table. He hasn't needed to tap that first brown bell for a reminder at all. I guess all that humming I endure for HOURS EVERY DAY may be paying off, even though it still drives me nuts.

All three children are doing more metal inset work. T and S are really coming along with their shading abilities. The points of interest I stress as I give them a lesson on shading are: it is a comfortable hand motion, there is no stretching, use correct pencil grip at all times, the pressure should be comfortable as well, not too hard and not too soft, and aim to make caterpillars. If the area to be shaded is wide, take a caterpillar swath and shade in that portion from left to right. Return to the left side of the page and shade in another caterpillar swath as if the second caterpillar is resting on top of the first one. Before, their work was choppy, contained white spaces, and frequently extended beyond the lines. Now their work is much smoother and they are beginning to explore more complex patterns with the insets.

Some of S's bulbs out back are beginning to grow and we can see their green leaves up above the brown leaf mulch. She is VERY excited. I wonder how many will come up. I remember she really stuffed that bed full of bulbs in our 90+ degree heat wave last October!

And that is it for the week!


  1. I have, to date, never seen anyone show a lesson with the algebraic peg board! This was interesting to read, and although I had to read it a couple times to make sure I understood both what you were saying, and what I was seeing, this is definitely a neat way to teach LCM - a lesson that I very distinctly remember being NOT so easy to understand when I was in school. Could you explain the errors/omissions work that T was doing?

    1. HI! I did see someone with a peg board during the last few months, though I can't remember who. I am putting together a LCM post so hopefully this will help a little bit. These lessons remind me of Venn Diagrams and analyzing sets. THESE I hated, even in my grad school classes. As I remember LCM's were easy if I followed the rules. I never understood why the rules worked until now though. :)

  2. I think my son is about where S is with language work. Do you have suggestions for teaching blending? He definitely knows his sounds but will pause between each one and then not know what the word says. I have tried to model, but it hasn't seemed to help much....

    1. Hi Kylie, thanks so much for dropping by!
      A couple of things come to mind as I read your comment. One is more of a Pink Blue Green response, and the other is more of a Muriel Dwyer response.

      I must first premise this by saying that my two oldest who are reading didn't have trouble with blending for whatever the reason, so these thoughts are just my initial responses based upon my readings and speaking with certified classroom teachers.
      First, the Dwyer response: Segmenting and aural awareness are very critical steps in preparing the child for writing and reading. Has your son tried segmenting the sounds in words he hears? For examples, "s-long-e-l" in the word "seal." This can go on for a long time and we like to work the child up to the point where he/she can segment the sounds of really any word, no matter how long, into the key 40 sounds in the English language. The next step after this would be to introduce the symbols, or the letters, that correspond with each of these key sounds, and this leads to writing, or encoding. After this, (I am paraphrasing quite a bit) we would move onto decoding, or reading, in which the child who already realizes that words are made up of sounds, and those sounds are represented by symbols, begin to pronounce, and blend, those sounds and read words. There is so much that leads up to blending, that it is hard to say where to start, but perhaps you might be able to point to a weak point.

      Okay, putting on my Pink Blue and Green hat (the other way language is largely taught in the Montessori world) one of our Montessori teachers suggested using cards and word families. We focused on a number of blends and made cards accordingly. Say we focus on the blend "at" to ultimately make words like "cat", "bat", "sat", etc. I made a card for "a" and one for "t". Then we start out with them physically far apart on a tabletop and we say these sounds with a large space in between. We gradually bring the cards closer and closer together and our blend gets smoother and smoother, until the cards are side-by-side and so is our blended sound. Then I have a batch of "at" cards and some single letter cards that go along with that set. Then we work on blending "b" and "at", or "s" and "at." And so on. The sounds we worked on were: at, ap, an, am, ag, ad, ab, et, en, eg, ed, it, ip, in, ig, id, ut, un, ug, ub, ot, op, og, od, and ob.

      Do either of these thoughts answer your question? As for S, we did it both ways. She started off with something similar to PBG, and now we are transitioning to something more like Dwyer.

    2. We have tried the PBG approach, and it has helped with short words/CVC words but not longer words. I may have to go back and try some more aural awareness exercises. Thanks for your response. I enjoy reading your blog, and I think you are doing a great job with your kiddos!

  3. I am always fascinated how crucial each lesson is - each step along the way. Even if it's just "making sure" my son "knows it" (as in, sometimes I won't actually show him, I'll ask him a leading question or provide a word problem/situation that requires knowing that skill) ---- if he knows it, we move on; otherwise, I give the presentation. Every single time I've tried to skip (or accidentally skipped) we have had to go back. Maybe I'm gushing a bit, but this is why I love the Montessori approach ;)

    1. Oh, I like your sneaky way of checking his abilities before presenting the just-right lesson. I am going to have to try this.

  4. I'm curious how you store your time zone chart and the pieces? I found it a bit unweildy and not stored in a very appealing way in our own classroom.

  5. I'm curious how you store your time zone chart and the pieces? I found it a bit unweildy and not stored in a very appealing way in our own classroom.