Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 3 Part 1 October 27, 2014

I finished ONE set of cards!! Yeay! Okay, I kind-of finished one set of cards...the Animal Story card folders. I made 9 sets (one set is from Jessica) and I got some invertebrates in there, but I don't REALLY feel like it is a perfect set. I would have liked to have had two of each vertebrate species, and then one of each of the invertebrate species to make everything complete. But since I have 9 folders, the album says to not have too many folders, and I have a ton of other card material to make, my brain decided to let it rest. (But my heart is in turmoil so I'll probably come back around to this at some point and make those extra few folders.)

If you are following the Keys of the Universe elementary albums and would like a source for those first folders for the animal stories, you can borrow mine. Check out Jessica's message boards for the red fox folder. (I don't own these photos, but I am not making any money on this either...so you can borrow them if you need.) Please note that these are just the first folders in the complete Animal Stories set. This file doesn't include any picture cards, nor any question cards. (I got my question cards, along with some animal riddles ("who am I",) from ETC.) Go to the bottom of the blog and click on my Elementary Printables Page, or you can go here. Okay, now back to the paper cutter and geology and botany command cards and that whole/half step control chart for the bells.

Monday we didn't do much of anything. Some pin maps and I don't remember what other fluff. Tuesday we got down to it.

Botany: Needs of Plants
Math: Money
Language: Sound Cards, Sentence Analysis
Zoology: Animal Stories
Sensorial: Rough and Smooth Boards
Other: 4th Great Lesson - Communication in Signs
We started out Tuesday early with a little botany. We did the first lesson in the KotU albums: The Needs of Plants. I like how the structure of this lesson starts children in on the scientific investigation right off. We have a control which receives everything, light, warmth, and water. Then take away a single stimuli to see what happens. 

We used four ceramic ramekins and filled them with cotton balls and alfalfa seeds I purchased from Mountain Rose Herbs. To one ramekin we added water and stuck it in a location where it would get warmth and light. To a second ramekin we did not add water and stuck it in a warm light local. To the third ramekin we added water and stuck it in a warm location with no light. And the final ramekin we gave water and light, but tried to find a cold place for it. We weren't very successful with this one...so during the day we'll bring it in, and during the evenings we'll put it outside. Unless I break out my heating mat and add heat to all but one. Hummn. THAT could work. We'll check back in a few days and see what happens to each batch of seedlings and record our findings in our work notebooks.

We stuck the no-light trial in the media cabinet.
Among other card projects I've been very slowly coloring this file for D. It has an alphabet of first sound cards. I like these because they are not three part cards. These are perfect for building vocabulary, isolating first sounds, and in D's case honing pronunciation. I think he has the cards for the short "e" sound, "f", and "b." 

Oh, I have also been struggling to find containers and organizers that fit our materials, and environment exactly. Stores run out of stock, so they only offer black, and no longer carry clear. I purchase two packets of envelopes, they work in the classroom and now I immediately need to return to the store to get two more packets of envelopes. I walk around and around the Container Store with a stash of Montessori materials in my purse and I try to fit them into every box, container, organizer, and holder I lay my eyes on. Then I find that most of the materials don't fit any container in the entire store. However, I did discover that my picture cards which are 3-part cards from Montessori Print Shop fit in these plastic hinged containers. And D can actually get these open. We tried that out in the store.

This is my botany and zoology, and history and geography corner. *I-need-more-shelf-space!* I know that you aren't supposed to "put out materials" that aren't complete and ready to use, but I am bending the rules here because I am so antsy about this corner and my kids don't try to get into any folder of cards they haven't already been introduced to by moi. Paper and laminate...plah...now wooden materials, that is another story all together...check it out below. So, now you know that this space needs some more organizing to become the logical space I know it can be.

Above you'll see in those very plain folders the animal story cards I made yesterday. S was very eager to get her hands on them. We chose, "red fox" and "clown fish" and proceeded to explore both. These lessons are in the KotU Botany/Zoology album. 
S is a bit more than 6 1/2 years old, but she only got the benefit of a single year in Montessori school. Sometimes I forget that she used that entire year to acclimate to her classmates and new environment and didn't really gain good traction with the lesson sequence. So even though she is a first year lower el, we are still doing lessons that are on the primary margin. Apparently this is a lesson for young elementary, but not older elementary.

These cards explore the habitat, diet, characteristics, and behaviors of the animal. S was happy to read these cards with some help here and there. At one point I asked her if she wanted me to take a turn and read, but she insisted, "I can read it!"
T pulled out the racks and tubes and did a three-digit divisor noting only the quotient...an got a completely incorrect answer. I think we really need to go back to square one here. Do any of you find that you need to really sit with the child for multiple lessons before the child can do the work independently? Or is it that if the child cannot do the lesson independently after a single lesson that he/she isn't ready for the work? I am sick of seeing sloppy work and the kids thinking that they are being productive. Okay, breath, this is a journey of self-formation...a s-l-o-w journey.
 D did his construction puzzle from Melissa and Doug.
And then I showed him again how to sensitize his hands and work with the touch boards. (He did this last year.) 
This year, I am trying to fill in the gaps that start with telling time, linear, volume and mass measurement, money, and temperature. The album pages seem to touch upon these subjects very briefly and end up saying something like, don't forget to explore these areas too! (For anyone who knows, how do you do this in the regular Montessori classroom? Do you have lessons and materials? Or is it a group presentation? Leave a comment if you know.) I don't remember reading any lesson for teaching the child about the clock and telling time. So we are just winging it. (Winging it is not something I like to do, but I shove myself off the cliff from time to time because immobility gets to me more.) 

Here we have the Judy Clock which I think helps a lot. As we started using it I began to understand it more. The hour hand is red, so are the hour numbers. The minute hand is blue and so are the minute numbers. It is pretty large. When I took it out of the package I wondered where we would put it. It fits practically sideways on the shelf.

S is more advanced with this material since she did these lessons last year. T had a terrible time learning remembering just the hours. I guess we'll have to start from scratch on this one.

FINALLY, we started with the sentence analysis. I have been seriously dragging my heels on this one, not because I didn't have the material, but because I didn't learn how to do this in school and I am seriously confused when I read the album pages. I need a fresh cup of coffee, the material right next to the album and absolute silence to understand what is supposed to go on here. T seemed to pick it up cheerfully and easily.
This is the very first introduction and we used only simple sentences. (No adverbial modifiers here.) We have the predicate in the middle here, which just happens to be the same as the verb grammar symbol, and the direct and indirect object, on the left and right respectively. The direct object is the who or what that is doing the action, and the indirect object is the who or what receiving the action. 

T figured out pretty early on that it was funny to reverse the direct and indirect objects. Instead of "Joshua ate breakfast," it is funnier if you write, "breakfast ate Joshua." (It sounds like a horror flick just in time for Halloween.) So he wrote a few of his own sentences, cut the apart, and then pasted everything into his working notebook.
I also introduced the 4th Great Lesson, Communication in Signs, today. We talked about how with human brains, hands and hearts, early people wanted to communicate the things they experienced and the knowledge they had gained. And so, they began communicating by writing pictures, and then alphabet symbols. The kids seemed to think it was "somewhat" cool that someone invented the written language system we use everyday. (This is the post I did last year about the 4th Great Lesson. We used the same book materials this year because I am waiting on this book to come in the mail. I'll let you know if we like it.)
And this is what I mean by new wooden materials. I haven't given anyone a lesson on this yet, but EVERYONE couldn't wait to get their hands on it. These are the coin boards from Hello Wood. This year I got the quarter coin set and one of each of the other coin boards. I got them mostly as a sensorial experience, but I know this material will get T and S thinking about coin quantities and enable them to work on new word problems. I'll be sure to write about these again after I've given a lesson.
I can hear T upstairs being very patriotic, singing the Star Spangled Banner. The kids now know most of Texas Oh, Texas. And so do I because they sing it ALL THE TIME.

My Friday post could go up on Saturday. We are going trick-or-treating with friends, probably early, and my husband is traveling in the mean time which means I am not going to have much time to blog each day. You'll hear from me soon though! Have a happy Halloween!


  1. You need to post an audio of them singing!

    I don't know how anyone in the south does that heat/light/cold plant experiment. We do it in the dead of winter up here in the Arctic circle :) It took me a few years to remember to do it in the winter. I always got to that one in the summer and then couldn't find a place that was both cold AND light. Put it on ice with a cloche?

    I don't know how the coin boards work.

    On the racks and tubes I had to sit with Kal-el for his first nine equations, after that he was fine. However, 40+ equations into the checkerboard there is usually some small error nearly EVERY TIME. Kal-El puts the equation back in the stack if he can't figure out why it's wrong. Usually it is just wrong in two places and he can see that he made an addition error in one category that caused an exchange error in a second or something and then we just let it go.

    The Animal story work is GREAT. I probably will have to print those for my kids. I don't know if we are going to get to much botany/zoology this year. We are still working on the tilt of the Earth and I think we are doing all the air presentations next followed by all the water presentations. I have a feeling NEXT year we are going to be heavy in botany/zoology but I think this year will be light. We'll see.

    Spent the evening lesson planning, trying to figure out how to sneak in the things we aren't getting to (multiples, squaring/cubing). Probably will tweak work plans again :)

    1. Get them singing...yea, I had thought of that. But I wouldn't want to injure someone who might just laugh too hard. Plus they are skiddish with recording devices.

      I'll blog about the coin boards later in the week. We so need to those money, time, mass, length, volume topics.

      Kal-El's experience with the Racks and Tubes makes me feel a little better. My kids don't like to re-visit work. I am working on this. Work-plans? I don't know if that would work for them at this point.

      I'll post later in the week the other file I created with S that has the pictures of different animals without all the little tickets. She picked out some interesting ones.

      We did a lot of geography the second half of last school year, so this year I am really pushing the zoology and the botany. We'll see what happens. I kind of wish we were in sync.

      Ahh, yes. There are a couple things I am waiting for that were on back-order, one is the daily word problems for S (the ones you have your boys working on...) and the squaring and cubing stuff. I read through some of those lessons and we still have soe foundation work to do before we get to that material.

      At the rate we are going I am thinking we need to add an afternoon session to keep things rolling along. Maybe after this materials-making blitz dies down. (whenever that is.)

  2. Everything looks great! Oh how I wish so bad that I could make materials faster! Costumes have consumed our week. I guess I could use that for sewing lessons :).

    Oh and Jessica has a post on her blog about how she handled time. I know you just got the primary albums so maybe you haven't looked through it all yet but I think there is an album page at the back of one of the albums somewhere for presenting time. Not money though. I was just thinking about this the other day too...the basics of life that I forget about because it's not in the album! I get tunnel vision with Montessori and forget to zoom out sometimes!


    1. Jenn, THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all the music nomenclature/booklet/card material. I downloaded your wonderful KotU compatible files from the message boards. You saved me SOOO much time. T is angling to get ahead in this area and I panicked when I saw that there was a bunch of card material that I needed to prepare like, NOW!

      I did find that page in the primary album about time...and it says that the elementary album says to refer to the primary album, and that the primary album page isn't finished yet. :) I'll keep digging.

  3. Wonderful - what an amazing home-school you have! (I discovered you through MBT - What DID We Do All Day)

    Have you found your way with time? You might like to take a look at Cultivating Dharma's draft History Album - link> http://www.freemontessori.org/?page_id=9

    Looking forward to reading more :)