Thursday, March 6, 2014

Week 8, March 3, 2014

Wow, it is March already. It was only a little more than one year ago we decided to homeschool our children. And what a year it has been. Planning, studying, readying, making, frustrating, and well, I hope to see it all pay off.

This week, we had snow yet again and the kids spend a lot of time outside instead of in the classroom. We ARE finally back in our classroom, with some new inspiring lessons, new materials, and I have, perhaps, a new layer of confidence, or at least a shorter "materials-to-make" list.

So here is a tiny bit of what we have been doing this week. 

Our bells arrived!! EVERYONE was so very excited. T and S never had the opportunity to work with this material at their old Montessori school. Their classrooms just didn't have this material. SO, when we had the budget and opportunity to buy them, that is what I did, and I am SO glad that I did. 

I ordered them without knowing about Nienhuis's sale where you can get the boards and the bells for $26+ off the combined priced. Darn! So, I needed to make the green boards myself. I am trying to decide if I like the green boards the way I originally designed them. I feel we need more work space at the front of the shelf, and we do...but we also have a table near by to place bells on for matching. BUT, if I push the bell sets further back at this point, little D will not be able to reach them easily, and I don't want people leaning on the table, or reaching excessively. So, this is what I have for now. You'll see that T and S are much taller than this table. But this is the way it goes when you are an elementary student learning the bells along with a primary student. 
I must say, they are beautiful. Their sound is beautiful and so is their construction. Each is a bit more diminutive than I would have thought. Each bell base can fit it in the length of your hand. (I have fairly small hands.) And their sound, wow, so rich, true, clean, and simply beautiful. 

So, what did I do about our "table." First I panicked because I wasn't sure WHAT to put them on that was going to be long enough and sturdy enough, and I wasn't prepared because I didn't know when they were going to arrive. When they did arrive, each child was clamoring for a chance to play one, so I knew I needed to set something up quickly.

There was an Ikea shelving unit that can be tipped on its side in the storage room. We had bought a while ago to serve as a washing table. The bells needed it more than the washing board. After putting it together I figured out that it was going to be too short. From the storage room I pulled out two extra pieces of laminate flooring, stuck them together and by some stroke of luck, they were the right length and width. Then I stuck one of those rubber mats you use in your kitchen cabinets between the shelving unit and the flooring to keep it from slipping around. (I actually duct-taped the rubber mat to the flooring and then put masking tape between the duct tape and the shelving unit just for extra measure. This sandwiched situation doesn't slip around at all.) 

Then to create some toe space under the shelving unit I propped it up on 1"x1" dowels and stuck these to the shelving unit with masking tape too. I didn't need a lot of adhesion, just a tiny bit to make sure things didn't shift around. 

And then I cut a piece of green felt to cover the entire length of the laminate flooring. (I think it was 15 3/8" deep by 50" long.) Then I measured the bell bases and cut rectangles out of white and black felt to match. I affixed the rectangles to the green felt using double sided fuseable interfacing (it is like iron on adhesive you can get at Joanne's) and I used the Nienhuis catalog as a guide. I then affixed the green felt rectangle to the laminate flooring with bits of masking tape to prevent shifting. Again, I didn't need permanent adhesion, just a tiny bit of security.

And there you have it. Our bells cabinet...or make-shift-table.  (If you have kids who lean on the table, I wouldn't recommend this set up. You might need some 1 3/4" screws through that laminate into the fiber board shelving...or gorilla glue? Mine children don't lean and I was just being very wary of someone brushing the edge of the table as they walk past.)
We did the first introduction lesson on the bells today (from the KotU albums), and all three children got ample time to practice.  

T even figured out how to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
We also worked on one of the lessons in the back of the geography album from the KotU set. This lesson is called the Interdependencies of Humans. 

I put together a set of cards that depicted many of the people who help us acquire the things we need to clothe ourselves, nourish our bodies, and shelter us. (I downloaded these printables from the KotU discussion boards.) S and T and I had a discussion first about bread and who is involved with getting this food product to our plates. (T and I are 100% gluten free, but we still eat bread. It is just made out of different grains other than wheat, like millet, amaranth, soy, corn, and/or rice.)
I didn't take pictures of this lay out, but the left to right card flow went something like, picture of bread, grocery store, shop keeper, baker, miller, and then farmer. Now, being an MBA grad and having taken some supply chain management courses, this is NOT how the rest of the world would illustrate this production process. It took me a little bit to understand this lesson and why in the world we'd want to present the lesson this way when all of the charts or graphs T and S will see from here on out will NOT be configured this way. 

Maybe they'll eventually understand that supply chains are actually vertical, or maybe this concept will need to be a different lesson so that they can decipher what they are researching later on. 

That being said, it was explained to me that we start with the orientation the child understands, left to right, and the item the child knows, which in this case is bread. So we start with bread on the left, and proceed backward through the supply chain toward the right. 
The idea behind these card activities is to illustrate for the child that we all rely upon many many people to satisfy our basic human needs like clothing, food, shelter, defense, and transportation. 

After a first introduction, the child can then make their own card sets. S moved on to egg production and she made a new card of an egg-polisher, or, someone who is vital in the production of our eggs.
Here S made an entire new set of cards that illustrates one of her favorite foods pizza.  Here we have the pizza delivery woman, (we usually always make pizza at home) the pizza maker, the cheese maker, the sauce maker, and the dough maker.
Here S also drew the tomato grower, the dual dairy farmers, and the added a miller who makes the flour and a farmer who grows the grain. And pretty much everyone is wearing skirts.

And now I have to get back to finishing this material!! I promise to post more about my process and thoughts about this crazy project when I am completely done. We are taking another day off from school tomorrow, so we'll see you back here next week.

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