Friday, October 24, 2014

Week 2 Part 2 October 20, 2014

Oh goodness, another week has passed. These days time seems to slip by so very quickly. I barely got laundry done this week and finally got to clean my floors, which always need to be cleaned again exactly 13 minutes later. I am still feeling optimistic about school. I feel we are still rolling along in the right direction. I had a mini celebration (all by myself in my head) when S spontaneously combined the teen beads with the teen boards and "finished" the Teen lessons! Then we finished all 3 ten-bead lessons in one sitting! We are moving forward! 

D is feeling a little less than enthusiastic about being in the classroom these days. Somehow he still stays relatively busy. It is my goal to let him know that he isn't required to be in the classroom with us and that he is free to leave when he wishes. It is also my goal to let him know that there are some really fun and interesting things to explore in the classroom and that he might WANT to be in the space with us doing new works. We'll see what happens.

So on to the rest of the week...
Math: LBF, Stamp Game, Teens Boards, Tens Boards, Equivalent Fractions
Language: Art folders, Biome readers, plural/singular nouns
Practical Life: paper cutting, stringing, dusting
Other: 3rd Great Lesson - Coming of Humans, Fundamental Needs of Humans
Last year, T got the first lesson for all of the grammar parts of speech. I am pretty sure he didn't get any grammar in Primary at his Montessori school. Last year he was always really gung-ho to move to the next grammar symbol but he was barely interested in any deeper exploration of any one part of speech. So this year I am guiding him through the other grammar boxes and a deeper look at each part of speech.
Our second grammar box 2 illustrates definite and indefinite articles.  This third grammar box 2 (the 2 notes the noun part of speech and corresponds to a filler box we aren't using here) illustrates singular and plural nouns.
There are four packets of singular/plural examples in this box. T and I went through the first packet together and then he took more an hour to go through the second packet. I stepped in at around minute 57 and after a short discussion, wrapped everything up in 15 minutes.

Each of the packets illustrates a different plural spelling:

  • add (s), pots
  • when to add (s) and (es), boxes
  • add (es) for the ending (o), tomatoes
  • add (ves), halves

(Noun grammar box 4 also explores singular and plural. These cards are from Montessori Print Shop.

In the initial lesson, I pointed to a singular ruler and asked him its noun name. He said, "ruler." I added two more rulers to the pile and asked him what their noun name was. He said, "rulers." We repeated the process with "pencil" and "pencils" before I figured out that "scissors" and "scissors" comes in Noun box 4.

We discussed that singular means a single item is present and plural means that there is more than one item present. After that, I asked T to read the noun tickets and place them under their appropriate "singular" and "plural" category heading tickets. And then I asked him what was different about the words in the columns. He said that there was an additional "s" on the end of the words in the plural column. He got out his working notebook and wrote down his favorite example of a plural word that has "s" at the end.
The second singular/plural packet reviews some of the rules for when we use "es" to indicate plurality.
I didn't realize that there were rules for when to use "es", "ves", "ies." etc. I was never taught these lessons. I guess I just recognized the correct spelling by sight. Now I know. T "highlighted" his "rules" in a red pencil.
Then he wrote down his rule description in his Work Journal. I was very impressed by these phrases. He doesn't usually want to write at all. THIS is a HUGE step forward, and I can only hope that he felt proud of his work and gained some confidence from this process. (I am referring to my Keys of the Universe albums for all these noun variation lessons.)
S breezed through the teen beads in about a week. A caveat here though, she is older than 6 1/2 and has watched way too much TV during our 6 month transition/crazy relocation, and may have been very familiar with the names of each teen number because some cartoon character talked about it a lot. Connecting the names with the physical quantity could have been the only challenge for her here.
So, we moved onto the teen boards. We first introduce the child to the physical quantities 11 through 19 and add language to those quantities. Then we show the child how to express these quantities with written symbols. This material includes two long boards that fit into that long box in front of D. There are wood dividers between each number space, and number cards that can slide along those dividers to create each teen number. Between the dividers, a 10 is printed on the board. This board represents the single 10 that makes up part of each teen quantity. Then we "add" a number of units to each 10, (or the number card, or the colored bead bar) to express the entire teen quantity.
S easily recognized the written form for all of the teen numbers and then was able to match the physical bead quantities to each number symbol combination. We did a three period lesson, but it felt like we only really needed to do the third period. A note: the beads are on the wrong side of the boards. It is very hard to slide the number cards in from the right when the beads are in the way. BUT The beads are ordered correctly. You want the 1-ten bar to be on the left so it is the same as the written "1" digit in the tens column.

Then little D wanted to "slide" the cards too, so S showed him how. Although he was good at sliding the cards in and out, I think he ended putting the material back in wrong order. Hey, he doesn't know his numbers yet and, despite those cartoon characters, I am trying to keep it that way!
D kind of deconstructed the Living/Non-Living lesson and the Water, Air, Earth - Animal lesson and took his favorite doggie figure/picture from each. I think he returned the materials to their appropriate places afterward.
Then, without a work rug, he covertly did the smelling exercise. I blogged last year about this lesson here and here. (The second link has a fantastic pic of little D.) I'll blog more about how I set up this lesson this year when I actually give him a refresher lesson on this material. As you can see he needs one!! I also NEED to find a better box for this material. I have a strong dislike for plastic containers in the classroom environment and the wooden box I used last year is too big for our space, and the material.
S has taken over much of the daily "I Spy" sound practice with D. Here they are working on "c." I observe and step in when needed of course, and prepare new sound objects. For now, I am glad that they are working together, and that D is getting extra guidance that I don't have time to give him.

Later in the week we moved on from "c/k" to the "s" sound. He asked why there were fewer objects in the "s" collection. See, I told you...just a small handful of sound objects isn't going to cut it with my kids.

Also later in the week, D asked for a banana to eat. I asked him if he knew what the first sound in "banana" was, and he looked at his fruit and said with a big grin, "b." We are getting somewhere people!!! (I think I am really excited about these little things because we never seemed to move forward last year. I felt we were perpetually all over the place just sliding backward and forward to find out where every one was in terms of skill level. This year, I feel like we are actually slowly moving in the forward direction.)
Then D saw T using the metal fraction materials, so he went to our fraction cabinet(s) and took out this drawer. AND, WITHOUT a rug got to work exploring the same sort of equivalencies T was exploring across the room. D is exploring fraction equivalencies in a sensorial manner without the nomenclature and language. T is actively working toward the decimal fraction board and is working with all the language that goes along with the fraction lessons.
Then when D took out the drawer with the triangular 1/16ths he needed a little bit of Noona's help putting them back in their forms.

I just need to comment here, that little D has the chubbiest, cutest, shortest, little, 3-year old legs. Okay, I am back to thinking of him as a whole person who is actively trying to reconcile his environment and inner self.
(Darn, dark picture...I am still not used to this camera flash.) Last week T was labeling all of the circular fractions up to 1/10ths. Here we are exploring equivalencies, which you can do with the circular fractions, but he already had this experience last year. So this year I decided to let him get his fingers on our newer fraction materials for the review. He thought the rectangular and triangular fractions were pretty "cool."
First through trial and error, he found which fractions are equivalent. For example, (8) 1/16th pieces fit into the 1/2 frame. Then we discussed how to note this relationship on paper. I introduced the term "equivalent" which means "equal" and showed him that "=" represents this relationship. Then he was able to note the equivalencies he found in his working notebook. He worked with both the triangle fractions and then with the square/rectangle fractions.
After this work he demanded that I look up how many lessons he needed to do before he could get to the decimal fraction board. A "new" material can be a good motivator!
S has been doing a great job at forging forward and writing her completed works in her work journal. This journaling thing seems to be working. There isn't a check-list any more and the kids are using their brains and hearts to choose the next work that calls their attention. The kids need tons of reminders to note down the works they've completed but they are happy to record their progress. 

For now, I am the reminder who keeps them rolling along in all the different disciplines. If they get caught up in a certain work, I let them remain there in that work until they decide they are finished. Eventually we'll get to the point where the kids are using the journal more to note their thoughts about different works and which ones they might like to pursue further. I think that movement in this direction will be very slow, which is fine with me.

At this point I feel this exercise will be a good reminder to me of their writing ability, spelling knowledge, and penmanship issues. T and S remember that their journal is for their best work, and that careful work also can look beautiful. There are still a ton of all these "issues," but little by little we will work through them.
S started and finished the tens beads all in one sitting. In the photo above, she created all the tens from 10 to 90 with the golden bead ten-bars and named each one. (My box of tens beads was kind of weird...(or maybe it was me?) It didn't have enough ten-bars. I have a duplicate checker board bead box to borrow from and I supremely hope that these beads are the same size as these ten-bars I just purchased from IFIT. Since there are multiple levels working in our classroom, I wanted to try to stay away from "borrowing" beads from another work and getting things mixed up, like we are doing here with the decanomial beads. S also noticed that the IFIT beads are a different size than the Montessori Outlet beads, not to mention strung on copper colored wire instead of stainless steel wire, and a different color all together. *Note to self, if you need to buy any more beads, ever, get them from the same company.
S went right on to the boards and then on to connecting the written number symbols with the quantities and naming each.
And finally, we added the unit to create, label, and name any number between 10 and 99. You can see in the photo above that the golden beads are actually placed in reverse order. The ten bead bars should be to the left of the unit beads.
This is how S felt about her ten boards work. Now we go onto more linear counting and the 100 bead chain.
First T started out with multiplication with a double digit multiplier on the Long Bead Frame. T has done this before. When that was a disaster, we went back to the first LBF lesson, counting beads and creating and naming quantities. The latter was a much easier, and needed, review. This put T back in good spirits about this work. Wow, in some areas we've gone completely back to square one.
Photo bombed. I received a two orders yesterday, one from Waseca and one from ETC Montessori. And then this happened. CARD MATERIALS are the bane of my existence. Really. Waseca sent me the wrong cards which had me all turned around and in a tizzy for hours. My head hurt afterward trying to reconcile it all. I ordered the Animals of the Continents complete set, but the Animals of the Continents box contained the Biomes of the Continents cards. So now I need to some how get my hands on the Animals of the Continents cards.

I saw first-hand most of the Waseca materials in T's Montessori Primary School classroom and they were beautiful. These materials ARE beautiful. (And not that expensive when you figure in the cost of ink, paper, and the time it would take you to create everything. Goodness. If there is something I can buy, I am inclined to do just that. The problem here is that the many materials out there for sale do not line up with the Keys albums so I am always left with a to-make/to-do list.)

I also received the ETC cards sets for the plant stories, animal stories, and animal body functions. These do not match up with the Keys of the Universe albums. I am putting them together in a way that I can use the cards I have, but I still need to make a bunch of additional card material to match the album lessons. *sigh* If I had it to do again, would I purchase these cards? I don't know. I saved a bunch of time, ink, and laminate not sourcing the images for these cards. But in my mind, ETC is pretty expensive for what you get. (Waseca is a better deal if you ask me..but their materials are entirely different.) Oh, these sets do provide a good variety of plant types and animal species, but the picture resolution still leaves a lot to be desired.

I am waiting for the day I can say that I am primarily done with album materials and can just focus on gathering materials to satisfy the kids' deeper interests. 

You can also see that little D loves my mess.
This is what happens when beginning reader and author S gets her hands on some paper and a cause...

Little D was stringing Melissa and Doug beads in his licensed character pajamas.

He also did a little cutting with his scissors up-side down. Any child physical therapist out there know why this happens?
 And I showed D how to fold a dusting cloth...
...and then dust. He thought this was a pretty fun activity. Next time, I'll be sure to have him dust in a more obvious location. (Is it cheating if you pour the dust your vacuum collected on the stairs so your 3-year-old can pick it up again with a dust cloth?) Oh, this is in the Practical Life album under Care of the Environment.
Friday I put out the primary biome readers from Waseca that cover animals in North America. S is a beginning just started reading booklets a couple of weeks ago...and she powered through the entire first continent set. 9 books! Good thing I got the sets for all the continents. I purchased these readers for S to inspire additional reading and to cover some of the primary biome language she should be now covering. She was so excited to be able to read an entire booklet by herself...on her back...with her legs in the air.

These booklets are very simple and incorporate wonderful very-easy-to-read biome and animal descriptions. THIS material is a good example of why I don't try to make complicated materials from scratch. I'd be scratching my head forever trying to pen each little booklet using only simple words that are largely phonetic or use only common phonograms. And then illustrating everything, or coloring in all the black-line masters Waseca offers for most of its materials...don't get me started about that headache. If you have the them. These are really great first readers.
Next I introduced S to the art folders. I really loved my art history lessons when I was in elementary school. I didn't know that I was learning about art history back then, thank you Ann, but I am so grateful that I feel comfortably knowledgeable enough to help my kids learn about art history.
There is a bit about these art folders in the Keys of the World Primary Language album. I purchased a digital file set of art cards, that are actually for booklets, from Montessori Print Shop. I like the set but it is highly Euro-centric, male dominated, and doesn't include a large enough array of different periods. So I made some of my own cards. I now wish that I had added an information card about the artist. Maybe I'll make a separate info card for each set. 

Before reading the KotW lessons, last year I decided to approach art history from a continent-by-continent perspective. So I created a set of folders for 11 American artists. (Which I guess isn't representative of North America, is it? Maybe I'll make it a Latin America set and a US set and maybe at some point I'll research Canadian artists to add to my northern America set.) So, I think I printed purchased cards for 6 sets? And I made cards for 5 sets; Ansel Adams, Mary Stevenson Cassatt, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, and Harriet Hosmer. I just copied the format that MPS used. There is a name card that also has a small picture of the artist. I added the artists' first name to this card but MPS only gives the last name. Then I made an artist card that displays his/her portrait and six additional cards each with an image of one of their more famous works. (I think I got most of the images from Wiki.) I also added the date of the work, when that was available, though MPS doesn't include this. Then I made each set a custom file folder (I just cut down a manila file folder and taped the sides with packing tape) and organize them all on the shelf in a mini-file folder organizer. I added the artist's name to the back of each art piece, but I really should color code them.

Generally the thrust of this lesson is to expose the child to different art forms, art periods, and artists. These lessons also aim to stimulate conversation and help generate ideas.

S and I discussed each set she chose individually. We talked about subject matter, palette colors and tone, feelings, the title, themes, and intentions. 

Afterward, she combined the Andrew Wyeth cards and the Norman Rockwell cards and was able to sort them by artist quite accurately.
S also worked on her static addition stamp game with great ease and accuracy. (For those who are interested, our material is from the Montessori Outlet and our mat is a place mat from Ikea. The recipe box I think I got at a church sale sale and you can find the links to my equation cards (set 1) in the links at the bottom of the blog.

Finally, T worked with the fundamental needs chart and cards. (These cards are from Montessori 1 2 3. The range of images and the quality of their definitions are very good. But the resolution of the images are just so-so.) These cards include headings for each of the 9 human fundamental needs: clothing, shelter, food, transportation, defense, religion, beauty and ornamentation, music and dance, and communication. The set also includes definition cards and then a huge number of picture examples for each category the child can sort. T did a very good job with this large work.

The Fundamental Needs chart you see at the top of the photo above is a chart I made with print outs from the Keys of the Universe support albums.

Other things that happened that really happened but that I didn't catch on digital film...
S is still working on those Nifty Fifty State Flags and drawing her own versions of each flag!! Great Great purchase!! Thanks MBT for the recommendation.

I presented the 3rd Great Lesson the Coming of Humans Thursday. There are no demonstration materials for this story and we approached it more like an interactive talk. (I think I got the "script" from Cultivating Dharma.)

This talk points out some of the characteristics that make humans unique and different from all other animals on earth. First, we have brains and imaginations so we can invent new ideas. We also have hands with very unique opposable thumbs we can use to create novel and useful objects. And as humans we also have the capacity to love and extend that love beyond our immediate family and care for and love other humans we may have never personally met. 

After reviewing these points,  I asked the kids what kinds of things might early humans have needed to think up with their brains and create with their hands and opposable thumbs. We decided that they might have found food items and made shelter items. This theme fit nicely with the new-old books I added to our classroom this year. (This Food book and this Houses book I purchased via Amazon.) S found a picture of sugar skulls in the food book and asked "what are those pretty things?" We talked a little bit about El Día de los Muertos and El Día de Todos los Santos and then she declared she wanted to make a sugar skull. There is now one more thing on my research list.

Other things I am pondering:
I've been wondering about the cost vs. time trade off when it comes to acquiring all of the card materials we need for elementary and primary. I have a LONG list of card material I need welcome into our space. (Oh, space...shelf space for everything...well that is another issue all together.) It is always time versus money. My wish list includes cut and laminate sets of cards that reflect the lessons in the Keys albums appearing at my door, (all in little labeled folders organized in letter holders too would be nice, but why push it.) Do you have any go-to sources for primary math story problems, animal and plant stories, command cards for all the different places that need them, elementary classification materials, and primary category cards that aren't 3-part cards? Tall order, I know...but someone might have uncovered a gold mine of already-formatted material...or maybe I can find a genie in a bottle somewhere.


  1. Yes I would love to find that gold mine of card material too! Looks like you guys had a full week. Love the pictures :)

  2. I love reading your blog! It is so much fun seeing D do so many of the same things as my DJ. I just blogged about the I Spy game too. We're making progress but it's so slow. I wish he had an older sibling to work on it with him. How sweet is that?!

  3. Maybe we can split the card making work :). Only if we can't find any sources :(. One day we'll be done...


  4. Great post as always. You inspired me to pull out our "animal stories" cards and the KotU album to see what the big mismatch is. I see what you mean. There aren't any of the "small cards" for the foods and things like that. I think I am more okay with the mismatch because the KotU album emphasizes that this is an "early" work and since my kids aren't all that "early" anymore I figure what I have is fine. You have D and S doing this though so you would rightfully care more about it.

    I pulled out the "Main Characteristics" work and compared it to the body functions as well. Maybe my examination was too cursory but what is present seemed to match what it should do. As you mentioned, some things aren't present. Seems mainly like: no control booklets (control is on back), no group of picture cards of examples of each class, no invertebrates. I tend to not care if the work isn't done the same way as long as the purpose is fullfilled so I can work around no booklets. (Maybe you want to return your ETC's and get MRD for this? It has booklets and charts.) It does bother me that there are only vertebrates represented. NO PLACE sells invertebrate work to my knowledge. However, Pine Green Woods has all the images and information for the cards, so I think I will make mine off of that resource. I don't know WHEN. Jenn, Abbie, whichever of us gets to it first PLEASE send it to the other.

    1. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the Keys albums, the KotW an the KotU and I would be at a COMPLETE loss with out them. I love the message boards and the ability to ask Jessica questions when I am confused about something. What I don't love is that I can't just purchase the card material for the lessons. I need to make it all. NOW. Or like yesterday. And I didn't go through the traditional Montessori training so I haven't had the opportunity to focus only on studying the lessons and theory and making materials. (I don't think I am at all cut out for the rigorous training, but that is another story entirely.)

      The ETC Plant and Animal Stories are fine. They are "good" materials, and I am using them. It is just that there are other cards the album lessons require and these are missing from the ETC set. I wish I could have just given the company money and received a complete set of story cards for those lessons. Oh, well, purchasing these cards is not a total loss since I saved some time not having to make everything.

      The Main Characteristics cards from ETC present the same situation. Some parts the albums require are in this set, but I still need to make additional card materials to be able to present these lessons the way they are supposed to be presented. Again, I saved some time purchasing these, but I still need to make something.

      Yeah, and that no invertebrates thing stinks. I have the MRD invertebrate nomenclature materials so I'll see if I can create some story materials from this information.

      And thanks for the Pine Green Woods idea. I've never heard of them. I'll check them out. Jenn said that she'll share what ever she comes up with if she gets there first. :)

      Now I am going crazy trying to find boxes and containers in which to store all these materials. I'd say go with Jessica's advice, find the container first and then make the material to fit. But since I didn't make some of these materials I was holed up in the container store with a bunch of Montessori materials trying to find boxes that fit. Goodness. I'll be done at some point.

      OH, one other thing Jenn and I were would be great to have a short list of some personal favorites, or most famous/classic/known artists, composers, and authors as a starting point for gathering materials for general classroom exposure (like CDs, MP3s, novels, biographies, prints, coffee-table books, you name it) Would you be able to recommend just "some" of the most listened to classical composers that "most children" should know? I'm not very knowledgeable in this field but Chopin, Vivaldi, Pachelbel, Beethoven, Bach, Motzart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Hayden, Handle, Schubert, Strauss, Schumann, all come to mind. (I have a feeling this is a very narrow slice.)

      I was thinking of putting together a list of artists from around the world that are on my personal list of favorites so when people read the lesson page that says, you should have some artist folders and examples of their works, others who need it have a place to start.

      You are the music expert..what do you think about this? Is putting together a list just asking to open a can of wormed opinions?

    2. No problem. I'm not going to over-think the music thing. There are lots of premade lists online. I skimmed a couple and I think this one I agree with solidly:

      Some lists think they are being "smart" by featuring a MUCH less famous piece by each composer. Kind of defeats the purpose in my opinion :) This list sticks with the super famous ones.