Friday, January 9, 2015

Big plans for a New Year!

Week 1 - Part 1 - January 5, 2015! 

Can you believe it it is 20-15!! Wow, four years ago I found Montessori in my quest to find a suitable alternative to the public-school kindergarten experience for T. Two years ago I started freaking out about how to start homeschooling and really started to study up on the Montessori method. One year ago I started to feel like the dust was settling and I could see the map of where we were and where we were headed. And now...well, I feel like we all are slowly gaining confidence and looking ahead to what we can do instead of just looking at the ground trying not to trip over what is right in front of us. What a journey, one I surely didn't ever think I'd embark upon.

After a food and family filled trip to Virginia, we are back in the classroom. I hope this time it is for a long stretch. 

To prepare, I took Jenn's tip and printed out all the scope and sequence lists for both Primary and Elementary. Then I printed out my own customized sheets I made inspired by MBT's planner pages she wrote about here. And then I went through and made a few goals. The kids are going to latch onto my lead. Where ever I start sowing seeds they are going to follow along with that watering can and make something grow. So I need to get to it and start sowing those seeds! And there are a lot of garden beds I've been neglecting.

I took a look at the KotU and the KotW albums and figured out what we've covered so far and what the kids should generally be covering by the end of this school year, or May in my mind. (T is a second year lower El, S is technically a first year lower El and D is a first year Primary.) Then I set some presenting goals for me that span the next five months or so. I do plan to continue schooling through the summer, but I suspect that our sessions will be broken up by more air travel and several trips to visit relatives. 

Then I wrote these general goals down on MBT's sheets. (I'll note that this isn't the way she used her planning sheets.) And now I have a general road map. I can see that we are severely neglecting geometry, geography, history and biology. Wow that is a lot. Now I am looking at first steps like which lessons in what albums to start with and what materials I need to prepare to do those lessons. And presto, I have a stepping off point and a plan. Now, to get settled back in. The kids actually beat me to it this week. I got a cold as soon as we returned from our trip and have been feeling really s-l-o-w ever since. The kids have been in the classroom with and without me everyday this week.  

I do fully expect to deviate from this plan as life unfolds, as it usually does. We can finish catching up over the summer months in the hopes of starting somewhere near where we should this fall. In the Montessori sequence, "where you should-be" really is entirely relative. I just like to have a basis for that relativity.

I didn't get many pictures of the beginning of the week. It was just how that happened. The kids were in the classroom, I was in bed. So these are the shots I did capture.
This is not a pose I presented. But this IS the mystery bag and D is pulling out pairs of wooden figures without the use of sight. (I think I got the bag from Alison's Montessori? Don't quote me on this. But I do like this set.) Albeit with his right hand. He still switches hands a lot.

He likes the mask more than I thought he would. (Got it here.) And he is better at this stereognostic stuff than I thought he would be. He was able to pull all the pairs out correctly.
S is back at the reading. Her reading ability has really, really improved, through no effort of mine. She is recognizing many sight words as well like would, could, and should. How, I haven't a clue because we didn't cover them with classroom materials. Perhaps she is picking them up contextually. I am pleased that she is gaining momentum and confidence in this area. I think she is glad to be a "real-reader," as she calls herself. 
S has also gotten into the Primary introductory biome cards we have from Waseca.  These are located in the Waseca shelved cabinet we have right beside the animal by continent biome cards. 
She works through the cards and then colors the blackline copies, and finally makes a book of her work. 

She has been making a lot of books lately. Mostly with a TON of staples. I think I am going to have to start giving some book-making lessons. (Any links to particularly cute projects would be appreciated in the comments below. Now that would be a good Pinterest page.) Her other books are very, very cute. They depict all her favorite Nick Jr. characters on different "missions" and she narrates all of the action using her inventive spelling...and then she gives her anthologies, all stapled together, to her younger brother D.

S also go her hands on the microscope this week. Probably a sign that I need to ramp it up in the biology corner. Here she is illustrating some of the prepared slides we have in the classroom. (I got the slides from Amazon.)

D is doing his "constructions" work. We got this bolt board from Montessori Services, which reminds me that we should probably get the other one. It was reassuring to see him doing this work left-handed.

I don't know that is on his face leftover from breakfast.
D isn't reading yet, but we are coming along with the sound game. So far, he is very good at locating those initial sounds. We've covered, a, b, c, d, e, f, g, j, k, m, n, p, s, t, v, w, and z. I've slowly be transitioning to final sounds. He hasn't quite caught onto this concept yet. (For reference he is a little more than 3 1/2yrs.)

Ahhh, bed-head is one of my pet-peeves. Really? If S sees you T, she'll come after you with her hairbrush and de-tangle spray and then you'll smell like strawberries!!

So after the long, long break (4 weeks yikes!) T picked up the 3-digit multiplier LBF work and did it on paper with no help. He didn't get all the math right, but he accurately executed the concept just fine.

S couldn't remember dynamic subtraction on the stamp game. But after a small refresher she was off and running as usual.

T helped me code answers on the back of some of our money cards I got from ETC. This is a pretty good set. The levels are logical and incremental, focusing first on individual coin amounts, then denominations under $1, and then over $1. There are also plenty of word problems that involve all operations.

I'd estimate that there are somewhere near 16-20 cards per set, and there are 10 or so sets? (I don't remember exactly.) Each set is color coded and letter coded. I organized ours in these boxes for 5"x7" photos and these boxes organize into a larger box which has a lid. The lose plastic coins that come with the set also organize into a photo box as well. I just love it when everything fits together nicely.

T took a break after all that money and multiplication to do the US puzzle map.
D and I revisited the geometric cabinet together. We didn't go over the names of any of the forms, but rather used these two drawers as a mix and match puzzle as we practiced tracing the perimeter of each form. Nomenclature will be soon and we'll move onto other games/extension exercises.
D and I were working more on the binomial cube constructing the cube outside of the box. He can construct the cube inside the box with great ease now, but outside the box proved more difficult. After this, we'll be constructing each layer side by side and then constructing the entire cube blindfolded.
A bit of work with the farm here. He was very cute doing this work. He wasn't exploring grammar here, but he was making the correct animal sounds as he put each animal in it's stall. 
D is steadily working through the cylinder block sequence. He started more than a year ago simply removing and replacing randomized cylinders back into their appropriate holes. After working with one cylinder block, he worked with two together and then three, and then four together. After that, we did a distance match when he removed the cylinders from the block in a remote location, brought the empty block to a different location, chose a hole, and then retrieved the cylinder to fit in that hole. 

Here he is grading the cylinders. In the photo above, he has removed all the cylinders from the block and arranged them in random order on the table.
 Then he placed the block in a remote location.
Then he arranged the random cylinders in decreasing order, comparing each to another one.
He had one left over and had a hard time figuring out where it went in the sequence. This type of hiccup has also happened with the red-rods, brown-stairs, and pink tower. I was perpetually surprised that he couldn't see the visual discontinuity in each material. Can you see in the picture where his cylinder goes?
 He finally figured it out.
And then he brought back the cylinder block to see if he had graded the set correctly and if each cylinder would fit right into its corresponding hole.
And the cylinders did fit. But he didn't replace them in order, nor all with his left hand. 
This was our pink tower game that used comparative language. D set his pink tower blocks on a rug a ways away from our work area. He brought one block over to me and then we covered it with his "blankie." We peeked under at the block and I asked him to bring over a "larger" block. Remembering the first block form he returned to the remote rug to retrieve a "larger block." When the one he brought back was indeed larger, we replaced it with the first block and he returned the first block to the rug and came back to "peek" with me again and receive a new command. When the block was not larger, he returned the incorrect selection to the rug and returned with a new comparative choice. I also gave him the "smaller" block command as well. 

In this game the child need not retrieve a "next-smaller" or "next-larger" block, just one that is either simply larger or smaller. This refinement in language is covered in the next extension game in the pink tower sequence.

I guess this was a request for a "smaller" block.
S also did a little bit of her Daily Word Problems - Grade 1 book. (I got these from MBT's tip here.)  S had a really hard time with these as she usually always does. I am trying to figure out if it is a reading comprehension thing, a word-problem thing, or something else. There is just major brain blockage whenever it comes to these problems. So stay tuned as I try to ferret out what the problem is here and why she can't figure out whether or not the 450 kg dolphin weighs more than the 70 kg dolphin.
Here S is working on memorizing state names and locations. She first pulled out all the states she remembered. We will continue to work from here learning a few new states at a time using the three period lesson.
This is our elementary grammar material. My goal is to introduce all of the parts of speech to S this spring. So far, we've limped along through the article, the noun, and the adjective, so we'll see if we reach this "goal." Here S is picking up the first noun grammar box she has already done once. S is a fairly strong reader now, so I wonder if this will enhance her enthusiasm for these language works. 

She had an incredibly difficult time working through these cards and finding the "pattern" that words beginning with vowels require the article "an" whereas words beginning with consonants require the article "a." It could have been a "what is a vowel" thing, or an "I don't feel like doing this work" thing, or something else entirely. But she felt relieved and victorious when she was able to figure it out with the help of the sandpaper letters. (I'll note here that I have my own arbitrary rule that if you take out a work, you need to see that work through. That means here, figuring out the pattern, or on a math work, doing at least three problems.)

And then she wrapped up the day with color tablet box 3. As you can see these are sets of graded colors, which frankly are pretty hard to discern. I think S already explored these while at Montessori school, but with her increased interest in the biome pictures and rendering illustrations using the microscope, I thought it prudent we revisit color grading. 

And that was most of our school week. Big plans are underway on my end, and I hope to do a big push to get us started at the top of this new year. It feels good to be mostly settled into our new home in Texas and I look forward to a good long uninterrupted stretch to continue our work!
Oh, and sae hae bok mani badeuseyo (새해 복 많이 받으세요) which translates to "please receive a lot of luck in the new year!"


  1. It is nice to see mom and dad too :)

  2. Can I just tell you that your photography is STUNNING? Seriously, who wouldn't revel in the beauty of Montessori after these pictures. Gorgeous!

    1. Thank you so much! I must confess it is in part through post process editing, especially this week, to add contrast and balance. It was overcast outside and darker in the classroom most of the week which meant very dark images. A little photo editing can help bring better light to a dark photo. :)

  3. Oh, I LOVE the family pictures! :) I mean, I loved getting to read some of what you've been doing, too - I've done far too little of that here lately - but I love seeing the family :)

  4. Yay, you are back up and running! LOVE the family photo and especially S's outfit! I'm absolutely sure that C and Th are going to ask for one

    And on a Montessori note, the Waseca stuff is totally starting to grow on me! I might have to invest in some. Oh and we got a new camera, so blog will be up and running soon! :)