Friday, November 21, 2014

Week 6 Part 2, November 17, 2014

Where do the days go?? I remember being in third grade and thinking that an hour took forever. I also remember being a high school junior and realizing that the period had just passed in a whisper. That was the first time I remember time seeming to speed up. And it doesn't seem to stop. Each turn, each month, each year, everything spins by a little faster. I wonder if when I am 100 years old if it will seem as if I just woke up right before I go to bed.

We were busy this week. Sometimes a good lecture about "responsibility" works wonders.

Language: noun gender, reading poetry
Math: LBF - partial products multiplication, money problems, linear counting, stamp game - static subtraction, Challenge Math word problems, 
Zoology - animals of North America, animal riddles "who-am-I?"
Bells - matching notes on the staff and naming pitches
Sensorial - brown stairs - missing stair exercise, color tab 2 - matching from afar
Practical Life - dressing frames

T finished the traditional noun grammar boxes. I think we have 4 boxes. I made these up on the fly using the KotU albums and support albums as a guide. This is the Noun Gender lesson. Most of the English language does not rely upon gender distinction any more the way other languages do. Korean words differ depending upon if the speaker is male or female. S calls T "oppa" because she is a younger sister. D calls T "hyung-a" because he is a younger brother. Spanish also relies upon the gender distinction and the article often makes this distinction as does the last vowel, though the latter doesn't always hold true. "El libro" ends in "o" and "el" indicates this words is masculine. "La chica" ends in "a" and "la" indicates this word is feminine.

Though usually gender neutral, English does still have a few particulars that denote gender specificity. I introduced T to two sets of masculine/feminine cards and one set of masculine/feminine/neutral cards. T arranged the cards he thought were male, female, or neuter and we used the dictionary to find the definitions of words he didn't know.

After this lesson we will move on to noun classification and proper/common nouns as well as concrete and abstract nouns. (These materials can be found in the KotU support albums. Thank you Jessica!)
T picked back up where he had left off with the animal stories. (I wrote about this work earlier in the week here.) In this second packet he honed in on the flatworm, probably because these too kind of make me feel icky. 
We looked up "flatworm" and "tapeworm" in particular. He did a tiny bit of iPad research. (Personally, I don't like researching on the iPad too much because even with filters on, you never know what you are going to come up with, and some of it can be pretty inappropriate for, well, any eyes.
Then we took out our Montessori R&D nomenclature booklets to read a little bit more about the phylum platyhelminth and then he chose to draw a picture of his favorite looking flatworm and wrote a few sentences about tapeworms. I think they went something like: "they lay eggs" and "they live in human bodies especially in the brain, eye, and heart." Disgusting. It didn't help my stomach to know that there are more than 3500 different species of flatworms around the world. Ugh.
T surprised me this week by remembering a lot of the long bead frame multiplication. Humn. Some days there is just an empty cavern up there in the space where their brain should be, and sometimes that empty cavern lights up and has ideas and remembers things. Go figure.

I used Keys of the Universe elementary albums, and this isn't the first LBF lesson which I was 100% prepared to give. We did review that 2 x 20 is the same as 20 x 2 and that when you multiply any number by 10, you simply add a zero to the right.

Then instead of writing only the finished product and using the bead frame for the arithmetic, T decided he wanted to notate all of the partial products and do the multiplication (or skip counting in his case) and addition on paper with a pencil. I am all for motoring forward, if it doesn't create large obstacles and giant gaps in the long run. So we did. And he did fine. 

I took MBT's advice and stayed with him while he did his problems this time instead of moving away. I have also taken to reminding him, and the others, to avoid distraction and focus on his work at hand. These reminders work very nicely and he actually finished three problems. You should have seen that look of triumph on his face when he figured out he had gotten the right product...AND when he figured out that skip counting helps him figure out multiples. (Thanks for that one MBT.)
Here you can see a little of his notation. He is multiplying by a two digit number here, so we deconstruct the multiplier. Here his multiplier is 38, so we decided to multiply by 8, and by 30 and then combine these partial products to get our final product. 

His notation on the upper right side is his deconstructed multiplicand. He just separated out the hierarchies, and will multiply each by "8." Then he did the same in preparation to multiply everything by 30. Then we decided it was simpler to multiply everything by 10, and just add a "0" to the end of each number and THEN multiply everything by 3. His deconstructed multiplicand (multiplied by 10) ready to be multiplied by 3 is on the lower right hand side. He calculated each partial product and then added through on paper to get his final product. 

Hallelujah for skip counting. He didn't get far with this material last year because he didn't know his multiplication and addition facts. This year, he knows most of his addition facts and can skip count and these skills made this material SOOO much easier.
This one of those measurement lesson topics we need to cover sans album support. I think the albums say, "oh, don't forget to cover this." I am a literal, calculated, judgmental mind and leaving me with, well, nothing makes me feel queasy. 

You may have already seen our sensorial money materials from Hello Wood here. These are the new cards I purchased from ETC that cover money in a bunch of different ways. (I will not go into all the ways, but over time, if you click on that "money" tag at the bottom of the blog, it will cull all the money-related posts for you. I intend to get some shots of each stage of this material.

And for the love of ---, if you are going to order this, get it laminated, or printed on plastic (if you like really slippery cards that don't stack well.) I have to laminate all of these, and it is a HUGE pain and time sucker. Ugh. And I can't even watch Korean dramas on TV while I do this mind-numbing work because I need to read the subtitles.
Anyway, T did one set of cards that adds coin denominations under $1. I cut these, laminated them, and cut them again (you never know when someone is going to dump water all over your cards...I didn't want paper edges) and then stuck answer stickers (I made) on the reverse side as a control. It annoys me that I haven't yet found a suitable container in which to store these. (When I grow up and have to work outside the home I am going to be a plastic container/envelope/little folder/basket/wooden box/metal tin purveyor.) 
Then he tackled these cards which add denominations larger than a dollar.
This set comes with a bunch of plastic coins. I was reluctant to let the kids have this set since I think it would be much nicer to have real US coins on hand, but we belong to a Credit Union that doesn't have a branch out here and we haven't transferred anything to a brick and mortar bank out here unless I send back to VA for some rolls of coins (or create a hassle getting cash back at the grocery) it is plastic coins for now. They are a lot lighter. 

T is kind of like me. He likes to know what to do and the right way to do it. These cards are pretty one dimensional and he feels pretty comfortable adding these denominations, so he was way into this material this week. (I need to get my butt in gear and laminate and cut the rest of the sets before I need to start making Thanksgiving pies.)
Here we are back to Challenge Math. (I first posted about this material here.) T took this out again, and lo and behold, skip counting came in handy again. 
I have him use his working notebook as "scrap paper" and to write his equation. AND I can see here that he did a little music notation, and pasted that in upside down. Oh, dear.
T loves working with the bells. He has a pretty good sense about this material. And I can't say that he has practiced that much. Humn. Some just have it I guess. Here he is working with the matching cards Jenn so nicely shared on the KotU message boards.

I realized that we had forgotten stems, so we quickly went over that the stems either extend up or down. They extend down for notes that hit at or above the mid-line of the staff and for anything below that point, the stems extend upward.

There are two identical sets of cards in this material packet. Each card shows the staff and a single whole note. These notes range from middle c to the c one octave above. On the back of each card, I stuck a sticker with the note name on it in one of two colors. In the above photo T is looking at the note, naming it, placing it in front of the bell and then singing the pitch and then playing the pitch.
In this photo, he matched both sets of cards and "wrote" each pitch on our green staff boards. He'll likely need to practice all of this only once, or possibly twice more, before we move on from here. He used his C-Major control chart to check his answers. The direct aim of this lesson is to help the child memorize the sequence of the placement of the notes of the C-Major scale on the G-clef staff. 
 And then he made this face.
S got a new material this week, our Waseca biome animal cards for each continent. (Don't get me started about how difficult it was to acquire these cards. Let's just say that there were many shipments from Waseca, a number of phone tag episodes, and lovely customer service that paid for all the extra shipments while I waited an extra two weeks to get my hands on the right materials.) Needless to say, after all that waiting, S was delighted to get her hands on these cards.

These cards don't come laminated. (Read my note above about purchasing non-laminated items...arrrh.) So, after laminating just the cards for North America, and sticking them in their cabinet, S finally got to explore them. (Waseca makes these awesome cabinets that FIT THE MATERIAL!! We have primary drawers and will need to get different drawers when I want to display the elementary materials. Our cabinets, we have two, sit on the shelves behind D's Practical Life shelves.) 

We set out the picture cards and talked about bodily features, like skin covering, appendages, color, etc. Then we labeled them and checked our work with the control card set. After this she got to work coloring, very precisely and very scientifically, these animal pictures to make her own field-study booklet. (These cards come with blackline masters.)
T saw S coloring in her Waseca biome animal pages and he really wanted to do this work too. He said he only got the chance to complete the field-study pages for Europe when he was in his Montessori Primary classroom. (Must have been because they were doing a Europe continent study. It made me feel really good to know that we have card sets for all the continents.)
T and I went over these cards a little differently than I did with S. First we laid out all the cards according to class, mammal, bird, fish, mollusk, arthropod, etc. Then we examined all the cards and took a gander at labeling them using clues from the pictures and our brains. Then we used the control cards to check our work. 

A note to others who have this card set, and also have a child like mine who is a stickler for details: in the Wetlands set, the card control for the snail says it is an insect. It isn't. Snails are mollusks, not arthropods. T didn't like that this set was mis-labeled. It IS a primary set so maybe there aren't mollusks in primary sets, but I would have thought either they would have omitted the mollusk, or labeled it as such. Oh, well, kudos to T for picking this out. He ends up being my tester for most of the materials and always picks up on my mistakes.
More stamp game for S. (First posted here.) This time with static subtraction. I don't know if you can see it in the card holder, but we marked the first card in the set, so she can tell when she has cycled back to the beginning.
S is practicing her chain counting. (First posted here.) Here she is doing the hundred chain. Linear counting is a primary work but S hasn't done this yet, so we are going over it now.
 Reading, reading, reading. Everything in sight.

In this picture you can kinda see how small D's table really is.
Oh, D was really really D this week. You can almost experience his little-big personality right through the photos on the blog. *sigh* I wonder what real Primary Montessori School would have been like for him. He is such a ham. He has a lot of energy and he is an extrovert feeding off of the attention of others. When he is up to his antics no one can work.

I've been trying to focus on him a bit more lately, giving more lessons, sticking closer by him, checking in when he needs some redirecting, and generally being more focused on his development and progression through the materials. Sometimes this works, and other times he does what he likes. 

You can see above, he is exploring our weights set. (I need to get an additional set of customary weights to be able to use the card materials that I I haven't formally presented this lesson to anyone yet.) D is trying to find how many geometric solids and how many weights he can get into the scale buckets.
We worked a bit on the brown stair this week. First we constructed the brown stair on the mat. Then D closed his eyes and I removed a stair piece and reconstructed the stair. Then D opened his eyes, and figured out where in the sequence to replace that missing stair. And each time he completed the stair he needed to "walk down" the stairs.

D has already constructed the brown stair from a random set up. He can construct the stair using random prisms located across the room and not available for viewing at the site of construction. Now we are doing this extension and later we will hide prisms around the environment and construct the stair by selecting them individually.
We also worked more with the Color Tabs box 2. Here he is making color matches from across the room. We put a single tab of each color in the set on a tray and placed it behind T's chair. Then at the mat, I asked D to find the matching "red" color tab. He left the red-tab on the mat, walked across the room to the tray, selected the matching red-tab and brought it back. If the tab did not match, he went across the room and searched for the red-tab again.
This is what pj's looks like in the middle of the morning when everyone else has decided to "get ready for the day."

After these exercises that required a lot of heavy lifting (brown stairs) and walking around (color tabs) we needed to quiet down a little bit, so we read a number of passages from this book. It has great illustrations, real literary words, and great topics and themes. We highly recommend it.

And after a bit more independent literary exploration we got back to....
...our regularly scheduled D-programming. Goodness.
I will leave you this week with this very cute, if I may say so, set of shots of D doing his dressing frames. This is the snap frame. He also did the hook-eye frame and the button frame. (I am not going to go into what these are all about here, but I promise to write about these sometime very soon when I give a formal lesson.)



A bit about next week...I am making Thanksgiving dinner for friends...a bunch of friends. I fully intend to do school Monday through Wednesday and possibly Friday, if the tryptophan and carb-overload has worn off. I don't know how much blogging I'll get to in the first half of the week between vacuuming and making gluten-free pies, so you may just see a huge post at the end of the week. (All our guests are local so no one is sleeping over at our house on purpose.) I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration! 

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 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.