Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Week 6, Part 1 November 17, 2014

Okay, last week I was totally MIA from all regular-scheduled activities. Not much happened, except some sort of physical recovery, getting the heat turned on...and then I got a headcold. Still can't breath well, but the show must go on. Because really, when are the kids ever going to have brains like they have right now? Why wait a decade when it is ten times harder for them to learn what they need to learn and are learning quite easily right now? 62 degree temps inside-whatever. Cold-whatever. Head-ache-whatever.

Also, nothing will get the action going quite like a read through the albums and reading all the million and one things we are supposed to have covered by say, age eight. **WHAT?** Back to work. 

What we did:
Sensorial: cylinder blocks, binomial, trinomial cubes, color tabs, 
Math: stamp game - static subtraction, fractions - simple subtraction
Other: Art Folders
Language: sentence analysis - simple sentences, nouns - plural/singular
Zoology - animal puzzles - the cockroach
D started off the week with a little bi-nomial cube. At this age, he is doing the first of a series of purely sensorial works with this material. There are 8 blocks in the binomal cube that represent the equation (a+b)^3. They fit together and inside the hinged box. The child has completed the work properly when he/she can close the hinged sides and fit the lid on the top of the box. Any incorrect construction will prevent the box from fitting together correctly. This work is done in primary, as early as age 3 and is indirect preparation for algebra, cubing, and cubed roots.
D is easily able to construct the cube inside the box. The next lesson will show him how to construct the cube outside the box and split the layers to examine patterns. In further work D will be able to build the layers side-by-side and then finally within the box but blindfolded.
After the binomial cube, D decided to attempt the trinomial cube. This cube work is similar to work pictured above, but this cube is comprised of 27 prism blocks and represents the equation (a+b+c)^3.

I am pleased that we have progressed past some of the first lessons on a number of the materials. On the other hand I feel overwhelmed because I don't remember all the later lessons off-hand and I absolutely need to study up the night before. And when that study-time isn't possible for one reason or another I feel like I am winging it...which I beyond hate. So I keep an album handy in the classroom and the kids routinely see me referring to it before during and after a lesson. Not the true-Montessori way, but it is my way.

Here D is doing one of the later cylinder block lessons where we scatter the cylinders around the environment and then play the closed-ended game choosing cylinders and placing them back in the block. D has already worked with each of the 4 cylinder blocks individually, randomly removing and replacing each cylinder in a single block. He has also worked with up to 4 blocks at a time, randomly removing each cylinder and then replacing them in their appropriate block. We also kind of sped through the first memory game where we place all the cylinders a pace away from the block and then search for the cylinder that matches the hole we chose. D really liked this "hide-and-seek" cylinder game though. You can see he had a lot of fun moving through the environment and replacing each piece.

After these games, we progress to distance grading with one or more blocks at a time, and removing and replacing the cylinders blind-folded without the use of sight.
D is still learning the names of all the colors. I kind of took this sort of thing for granted with the other two because T and S both went to traditional pre-school. I never had to teach them their colors. They learned them by listening to a silly hand-puppet sticking out of a cereal box. Okay, I look back on that now and the whole deal seems a bit silly. Because D has never been to a traditional anything, he needs to learn his colors, numbers, sounds, etc. So, this is color tab box 2. Color tab box 1 contains pairs of tabs in blue, yellow, and red. This second box also includes additional pairs of tabs in other colors.

This work is preparation for art and design and helps to refine the aesthetic sense. 

D is still early in this work and I have just given him language. Interestingly he remembers the names of S's favorite colors, white, pink, and purple, and the names of most emergency vehicle colors, red, orange and yellow, but he can't remember blue or black. Blue is a pretty common "boy-color" I'd think, so I find it interesting that he doesn't recall this name.

In subsequent lessons we will match tablets hidden in different locations on of the environment and matching the color of objects in the environment to the colored tabs. This work generally begins at 3 years and helps the child develop his/her visual sense and color discrimination. The work to come after this one is color box 3 which contains 63 tabs of gradient colors.
D picked out "hyung-a's" (형) coin board and is putting 100 pennies in the dollar board. For D he doesn't understand the underlying math, so this activity is purely sensorial for him.
D decided to get out the constructive triangles as well. But since I haven't read these lessons yet, I couldn't really direct him to a particular end. Here he is making what he calls "same" triangles. In geometry, we would call these triangles congruent.

And again, I didn't read up on this before he got out the work...(hey, I was up late last night making noun classification cards, laminating animals of the biomes of the continents, and printing simple fraction subtraction cards.) But he figured out one way of exploring inside this box. These are the knobless cylinders.
And finally, D talked his siblings into reading to him. These are readers S's former teacher gave me...Primary Phonics?? I think? I have a bunch of photo-copied sets and now you can actually get them on Amazon for a reasonable price. (When I was checking them out last year, I couldn't find them anywhere.) I seriously don't like these as much as our biome readers. If you are looking for quality, easy reading, go with the Waseca biome readers!! At least the child is reading something interesting and educational. 
S did a tiny bit of bells work this week. I don't know why she doesn't this material as much as T, since she totally sings and dances more than the other two combined. But she resists. So I remind. 

Here she is doing the bells memory game. Which she hasn't practiced a lot, but is very proficient in doing. She will remove three random brown bells and set them in a remote location out of order. She will strike a bell in the second location and then return to the bells to strike a white bell and match pitches. When she has found a white bell pitch that matches her original bell, she will replace the brown bell in front of that white bell. When she has completed the matching, she will play the bells up the brown bells and down the white bells to make sure they are all in order. 

There are so many other levels, games, and extensions to this early introduction that I will not go into them all here. Simply, this material helps the child refine his/her auditory discrimination of pitch.
I finally decided to push S along the stamp game path. She likes this material, even with a new operation as an added challenge. Here she is doing static subtraction. (That is, subtraction without borrowing.) 

She will select an equation card, and set up the first quantity, or the minuend. Then she will remove the second quantity in the equation or the subtrahend, and count what remains, or the difference. She does at least three of these every day. Yeay for repetition!!

S is pretty flexible. Heck, all the kids are pretty flexible. (I am positively NOT flexible if you want to know.) So this seems to be a comfy way to read a book if you are S.
S started with the sentence analysis. (Yes, T also just started with this, but I think like MBT, younger S will be ahead of older T in some disciplines.)

So I couldn't some how reconcile the materials with the KotU albums. Maybe I have an extra box? Anyway, my first box has these pieces in it.. the red circle, and two black circles in differing sizes and two black arrows with questions on them. They go on a board on which is printed the same design.

S and I started out with the sentence, "Sam ate breakfast," written on a slip of paper. I asked her, which word is the action? She indicated that the action was, "ate." I asked her to snip out this action word and put it on the red circle which she did. Then we looked at the questions on the arrows and answered the question, "who ate?" S put "Sam" on the left black circle and "breakfast" or "what was eaten" on the right black circle. The left black circle represents the direct object, or the who or what that is doing the action, and the right black circle represents that indirect object, or the who or what that is receiving the action. (To be honest, I never understood this work as a student and I ranked in the 99th percentile on the written portion of the GMAT. And as we progress through these Montessori lessons, it remains to be seen whether I'll ever really understand this sentence analysis stuff. So, when I write here on the blog things like "what or who is receiving the action" I look at that and think, yeah right...like that even makes sense. It is like a rogue agent receiving an undisclosed package of sentence analysis confusion. Hopefully this all will make much more sense to T and S and D.) At this stage I didn't give S these names. 
This is the first lesson in a long series of lessons that progress to include things like compound sentences, independent clauses, and complex sentences. (Just writing that makes my eyes start to blur.) Unlike the grammar part of the elementary language sequence, the sentence analysis segment aims to look at sentences in parts and phrases instead of individual words. The goal of this work is to help the child increase the clarity in their verbal and written expression. I think I'll be learning all of this along side the kids.

S loved this activity and segmented quite a few more sentences on her own. Writing her own sentences in her own creative-spelling-only-decipherable-to-me way and cutting them up in to little pieces. It was a heavy-on-the-recycling-bin day.
S did some more art folders today. Here she chose Jackson Pollock and Harriet Hosmer. We haven't gone into periods or biographies yet. I figured we'll circle back around to those at a later time. For right now we just talk about what we see and how it makes us feel. 

To my surprise, S really liked Pollock's work. It is very abstract, but she pointed out what she thought was the subject in each piece.

Then we did the sorting game which she loves. We mixed up Pollock's work and Hosmer's work and she sorted them out paying attention to style and subject matter. THEN, we brought out the other two folders she had already examined, Wyeth, and Rockwell, and added them to the sorting mix. I think I am going to have to get the large set for Europe in order soon. 
I've been meaning to put together a scratch-the-surface list of famous artists to use as a starting point when researching art folder topics. I hope to do this at some point soon. I thought I named everyone in our American collection here. (Okay, just checked, here is the full list of who we have: Harriet Hosmer, Ansel Adams, Mary Stevenson Cassatt, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O'Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, and Andy Warhol)
Lately T has been getting in deep. Monday he did only two works, but really motored through them. Here he finished up the noun boxes doing four sets of singular plural cards and noting down their "rules", like when to add, "ves" or "ies." 

He writes his rules on plain paper and then pastes them into his working notebook. Now that I look at this he should be using blue banded paper...and we should be working on those random capital letters in the middle of sentences.

Now it is on to noun classification: gender and concrete/abstract. (Thank you Jessica for the KotU language support album that had these cards!!)
He also finished up the simple addition fraction problems. And I had to make new simple subtraction problem cards overnight. (This work notebook is working...sorry for the pun...well!! There are no small bits of paper flying around. No one is complaining about the hole-punch and that they can't get their binder open. And their work is in ONE PLACE!!) T got to the point where he doesn't use the fraction circles for addition problems anymore.

After simple subtraction (subtracting with same denominators, and no negative numbers) we'll move onto multiplication using whole number multiplicands and fraction multipliers.
I pulled out, on a whim, one of our animal "who-am-I" sets from ETC Montessori for T. These are nice little expensive sets, but they don't correlate directly with the KotU albums. (Oh a word to the wise, never order non-laminated sets of anything if you can help it. Laminating huge sets of card stock STINKS. Just spend the money and get the laminated set. These animal "stories," which are not stories, are printed on plastic. They are durable, I didn't have to laminate them, but they are SUPER slippery.) 
He easily matched the definitions, the animal picture and the label card an immediately honed in on the cockroach. I think this was because these awful things horrify me. I got one of these...
A wood roach.  Photo by Bart Drees.
...stuck in my ponytail when we were IN the vacation home in the south of the city right after we arrive in Texas. These things wiggle their way into the air conditioned home and fly around at night. I almost had a heart attack...and after a conversation with the management company, we moved rental properties. (pic by Bart Drees) Ugh. I get itchy looking at this picture.
T wanted to know why cockroach populations grow so quickly. So he got out the bug book. When he couldn't find it in the bug book, we found it in our World Book encyclopedia. (We have a 2006 set .) (In case you wanted to know, cockroaches lay eggs, 32 or so, every 25 days and it takes only 3 months for baby bugs to mature into laying adults.)

Anyway, he wanted to draw a picture of a roach. And he made sure it had hairy legs. The hairs on the legs serve as feelers.

And then he wrote down a couple of very important points about roaches. Yuck. This is making my skin crawl.

Okay, totally an off-topic thing...I really want barbecue right now. 

Hope you have a good rest of the week, and hopefully keep warm where you are! We'll be back on Friday.


  1. Yikes! That roach picture is making me sick right now too! Ick! Looks like you guys are getting it done! We're moving ahead itty bitty steps at a time. Glad your working notebook is working for you :). My kids have gotten the hang of their journals now but we do have loose papers EVERYWHERE! It really is a nightmare for our personality types. Your working book is starting to grow on me :).

    Anyway, maybe we'll see you guys sometime soon!

    1. Yes, need to see you guys too. after T-giving? everyone here is recovering from colds.

      the roach...the flatworm...he just know what his mom thinks is icky.

  2. Ugh. I too have a headcold right now. Day two.

    I have barbecue in the crock pot right this minute. Come on over.

    I moved a bunch of stuff around in my four sentence analysis boxes to match the KotU. Then we started using them with my ETC analysis materials and I quickly realized that the ETC materials for this match the MRD albums, so I moved stuff around to yet a third configuration. You might have noticed I had to do it a fourth time to do the MRD/ETC lessons with two subjects (I think KotU just doesn't cut the subject apart which would have been fine with me, but whatever). Wait, I almost forgot, you don't DO "but whatever." LOL! Poor you :)

    Also, in defense of you peeking in your albums, most primary guides don't also have to keep track of all the elementary at the same time. One's brain simply gets full!

    1. Ahh, got BBQ last night for dinner...Rudy's. Pretty good. Kids finished off the sausage, and the adults had brisket...sooo good. Interestingly, this is the first time since moving to the Lone Star state that I have wanted anything bbq. Texmex hasn't caught up with me yet. I don't now that it will EVER catch up to me.

      I didn't realize that you moved stuff around so much. I feel like from your posts that you just install it and forget it. I don't DO whatever...so right. I just work hard to make it well, "right." :)

      I think I have an extra "intro" box for the sentence analysis stuff. I don't need anything I don't have, it is just is in different boxes. I started with the very simple three circle, two arrow box for the very first lesson since I didn't want the kids to get distracted with the other arrows and circles. We will progress past that first box very quickly and I'll figure out what each of the other boxes needs as we go. I think there will be some borrowing, which you know I hate. But T and S are neck and neck with this material that there is going to be a lot of overlap and jockeying for first place. We'll see.

      Yes, I peek. Always. I just need to get it RIGHT!! :) I have been thinking of you lately and I am feeling jealous we didn't start out soft and slow like you all did. It was 9 months, prepare and GO!! Not my preferred method.

  3. I refer to my album pages during presentations more often than not ;) Or at least read ahead, then check it again afterward, and give "more information" after the official presentation. All good. ;)

    As for materials not matching - I used to try to adapt everything so it all worked; now I find it easier to change the material to match the album page on stuff I have less intuition on. Easier to follow the instructions than to revamp - not always a perfect system though.

    I am going to pretend I didn't just read all the r---- stuff. UGH.

    Headcolds and influenza: elderberry syrup. Good stuff. (we made ours, so it was way cheaper than store-bought - works wonders and research studies have proven its effectiveness ---- learned this via Legoboy's herb studies ;) )

    1. I didn't mean any knock on your work. I wouldn't be able to do anything of this without your albums and your effort. THANK YOU. (I don't know if I can say that enough.) I am just frustrated that everyone else hasn't wised up, read your albums and made their materials accordingly. :)

      Ahh, elderberry syrup. We need to try that. How much and what kind of sweetener did you put in? or did you go without?

    2. Oh Abbie - I know you like the Keys of the World/Universe albums ;) I too get so frustrated when I am told in training that Nienuis has the AMI plans and all their materials coordinate, etc. And.... then we get a series of notes on various album pages that "Nienhuis's version isn't right here; and it's not right here either." And then SO MANY companies that don't even KNOW what the materials ARE that they are selling! Ugh. No wonder it all gets so confusing.

      Elderberry syrup: our first batch started as elderberries (dried) simmered in water (I think it was 1/2 cup dried berries to 2 cups water???); then added honey (probably 1/2 - 1 cup???). That is the basic syrup. We also added cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

      The second half of the batch, we added lemon juice (concentrate) and a touch of white rum. A small portion just had the lemon juice but no rum (the rum is drying and I ended up with a dry cough that HURT, so backed off the alcohol).

      We use information and resources from learningherbs.com - LOVE it.

    3. Thank you for this bit of info...it is very helpful. Where did you get elderberries dried? Does someplace like Mountain Rose Herbs have these? Do you add the honey hot? Did you use raw honey, if not, I suppose it wouldn't matter if the liquid was hot or not. Sorry, lots of questions. I never thought about making this at home. I'll check that website too. Thanks!

  4. If you are truly wanting to do this - here is a great starter kit:

    We loved it so much, that I actually just recently bought a second one - just to have everything in one place again, with new jars/bottles, even though yes we buy most things from Mountain Rose Herbs.

    Once you get started with this kit, it really DOES help in the comfort level with modifying it - I am SO happy my son got us started on this journey!

    Mountain Rose Herbs has been go-to place; and when they are out-of-stock on something I can usually get a suitable alternative. Their essential oils (if you go that route) have been 3rd party tested and come back positive every time - and their prices are decent!

    Legoboy and I are just waiting for some elderberry gummies to start simmering (yes, at 11pm our time zone). He's a bit impatient ;) Elderberry syrup with a little twist, and with gelatin: