Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More Birthday Party Planning on the Horizon

Week 4, Part 1 - January 19, 2015

S was born almost 7 years ago. We were due in mid-March, or at least the doctor said that was when we were due. It was about the time that my best friend from high school was also due with her third. But S decided that she didn't want a birthday in March. She wanted a birthday in February, 4 days before her father's, and right before the lunar calendar year end. She wanted to be the lucky year of the golden pig. No year of the rat for her! 

If you've been reading along for bit, you know I am planner. A new baby 5 weeks early wasn't on my planner that year. But there we were, spending my husband's birthday in the NICU. I don't know if he even got a cake that year.

The next year, I don't think that he got a cake either, since Korean first birthdays are HUGE. S had two parties. I was too burned out from the roast beef and horseradish mayo sandwiches, the lobster rolls, and the vanilla cream filled cupcakes to bake off another cake four days later. 

The next few years, we had elaborate tea-parties with mini-tea-sets, petit fours and linzer cookies dusted with powdered sugar. There were also fairy wings, sparkly crafts and of course, tutus. I think that these years, my husband got cupcakes from Safeway for his birthday.

Just last year, the first year we were homeschooling in fact, I invited a bunch of his work buddies, and their significant others, over and we had a Korean bibimbap bar birthday party. I think this was the first time in 6 years we actually celebrated his birthday with anyone outside the family under my planning power.

This year I wanted to continue the tradition and throw a some-what-simple co-worker gathering with our new friends. (I say "somewhat simple" because, if you know me, nothing is simple. It is more like go all the way, or go home.) So, there is a bit more party planning in my immediate future before I can let up and enjoy St. Valentine's day and get ready for Lent and Easter. 

We went over the rotation of the earth yesterday, but there are days I wish that rotation would slow down just a bit.

Anyway, on to the first part of the week.

Maybe it is the work journal planning, or my need to make materials and tie up loose ends in the classroom, but somehow over the last week or so, I've taken many fewer photos than I usually do. So, I apologize in advance for the works that weren't documented and you will never be able to see. (And I will not be able to remember. Oh wait, that is what the kids' work journals are for...)
This year I've doubled back again and we are starting the physical geography presentations from the beginning. (From the KotU albums of course.) It has been so very long since we last saw these charts and had these discussions that I don't think the children remember. Also, last year, we were just kind of limping along, figuring things out with what felt like weights tied to our ankles and blindfolds over our eyes. It is my aim this year to recap, review, and renew our momentum in this area to get further than we did last school year.

These charts are about the rotation of the earth. Both illustrate the different temperatures the earth surface experiences as it rotates to face toward the sun and away from the sun. (I talk a tiny bit more about this lesson here.)
S and I sat down to do some Daily World Problems. (I posted about these here.) This time we were having some difficulty with the "how much more" phrase. I didn't want to tell her that it was a subtraction problem, because we didn't really introduce subtraction with the golden beads in this manner. This is her back story here. It was more about the difference after consuming part of something, rather than finding the difference between two whole quantities. This was just a VERY difficult concept for her to grasp.

T was a bit of help, but so were some fruit snacks. I figured the idea of who has more fruit snacks might be a powerful impression. She knows that if I have five, and she has four, that might be unfair. She has fewer. If we both have four fruit snacks, we both have the same amount. T and I pointed S to the "more" group instead of the "same" groups. If S has seven fruit snacks and I have four snacks, then we both have a group of four snacks. I don't have any more than that four group. S's "more" group was three fruit snacks. This was also "how many more" snacks she had than I had. Then we applied this concept to her chimpanzee problem and finally we understood what the book was asking.

S also zoomed through two sets of these readers. She is also presently hanging on the arm of my desk chair reading this draft post over my left hand. 

During our not-in-the-classroom hours, S has also been reading every package in the grocery, (except those that are written in Korean) street signs, and many of the story books around the house. I'd say that we have another total reader on our hands.

The traditional Montessori sequence encourages a quicker pop-into-reading. The Dwyer method spends a lot of time honing the child's aural awareness with sound games and verbal segmenting. The child finally understands that the words they already know are all combinations of the 40+ sounds in the English language. After developing a firm understanding of sound segmenting, the child is then introduced to symbols, or the letters of the alphabet, but not before. I've seen written that it should take the child only a few weeks, a month at most, to learn all the single letter and double letter symbols that represent our 40 English language sounds and after this the child will be able to write easily and write anything they please. 

After writing comes reading, and usually a small bit later, but with equal ease. The guide will introduce a combination of letter symbols and ask the child to encode, or read, them. Since the child can already link the sound to the symbol, reading can come much more easily. 

This is the way reading can come about in a traditional Montessori classroom. I have been told by many individuals that this isn't usually the way reading happens in the homeschool environment. And I've observed this to be true with at least S. (D is still a ways away from reading, and T learned to read within his first four months at Montessori school at age 5.) I don't know for sure if it is our environment, or if it is S.

I've been finding lately that S is really 6 months to a year behind what Montessorians consider to be the average child. She has displayed developmental delays right from her premature birth, so it is no surprise that reading would be a little delayed as well. (Yes, yes, everyone I've ever known says that premies usually catch up by 3 yrs-5 yrs old. I just haven't seen this to be the case in our situation.) We didn't dwell in reading much last year. We did do Bob books.We did do single word cards. But reading was very difficult. It just a few months ago when she started really gaining some traction and wanted to be a reader. From the time she started reading single words here and there, until now, when she can read an entire story book (that is not a phonics reader of any kind) was about three months. I guess what I am trying to say is that I was still surprised at the speed at which she gained proficiency. And she is so very, very proud to be a reader. (She calls herself this; "mama I am a reader!")
This is D doing his open/closed lesson. (I wrote more about this work here.) This week, again I changed out the "surprises" inside these little containers to get him using his fingers more to develop hand strength. This time I put bolts and nuts of various sizes inside each item. 
 Here he has found that there is something new inside!!
Here he automatically graded them largest to smallest, largest on the left and smallest on the right. (Smart little cookie.)
And then I'll admit I was too anxious and just showed him how the nut goes on the bolt instead of letting him figure this out himself. He LOVED this concept and took it away after my first and only demonstration.
These are what we call concentration lips.
The next day I changed the surprises out again. It is my plan to rotate them frequently and revisit ones we've already seen. Yesterday I stuck gold rings in the containers. 

In Korean culture, the baby's first birthday, or Dol, is a big deal. Relatives give babies 24kt gold rings, which the mother might later have melted down and made into jewelry. T received the most rings for being the first grandson. The children don't get to explore these much since they are usually packed away. And they really don't remember wearing them because they were only one year old.
Lucky we have ten fingers. The baby doesn't usually wear any on his/her toes.
D wanted to try them on. (They are adjustable.)
He is looking a little gangsta'.
Gold-knuckles anyone? They wouldn't be the best for tough street fighting. This gold is only a few millimeters thick, and since the metal is soft you can still bend them easily.
Then the older two got wind of D's work and descended to check it all out.
S was going to start our money card sequence. (I got these money cards from ETC. They are a good solid progression from very basic to more advanced and there are 11+ sets. Just when YOU order them, purchase them LAMINATED!) Well after a frustration fit, we realized that we needed to back up and go back to the coin boards because S didn't know any denominations. So that is where she is now. These are our money boards from Hello Wood and this is S using them without a work rug. (Here she is working on a dime board and the nickle board.)

I'd say that these boards aren't necessary. If you have many kids I can see where the investment could pay off. I don't have many kids. But I made the investment anyway because, one, I think this is a really great sensorial experience, and two a really beautiful material. T, S and D really enjoy/ed working with these boards.
Here S is stamping out the different ways to make 10 cents. (The stamps come with the quarter combinations exercise.) After being so frustrated with the beginning cards, she really enjoyed this work. Good thing we got these boards.
Let it Go! Let it Go! And roll all over the classroom! (Sung to the tune of that silly Frozen song.)
Oh geometry. Last year I ignored geometry. There was just too much other stuff on my plate at the time and too many other things to do to ramp up our homeschooling. This year, I plan to do geometry full force. It IS everywhere you look all around us!

This is the first presentation about congruency and similarity. But I'll back up a bit. Before giving the materials lesson I told T and S the story of geometry which is in the KotU albums. This is really a GREAT story. It is interesting and hands on, and I really feel it gives the children a solid idea about WHY the Egyptians started using geometry in the first place. Geometry can be a practical exercise. 

Each year the river Nile overflowed its banks and flooded the ancient Egyptian fields. For this reason, the soil was very fertile and the Egyptians were great agrarians, but also for this reason, their field markers were washed away each year, and each year they needed to re-measure and re-mark their field boundaries. Because each farmer was taxed by the Pharaoh based upon how much land they had, each farmer was concerned that the method of measurement was accurate. The measuring guy (there is a long name for this guy that I don't remember right now and have a hard time pronouncing anyway) would go out to the fields with three slaves and a long rope with two knots in it. When two slaves each took a knot and one slave held the ends of the rope together, the rope created a 3,4,5 right triangle and with this information the Egyptians were able to accurately measure the land year after year.

The story also goes into Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, and Euclid. The kids thought that Plato's name sounded like "Play-Doh" and thought this was very, very funny. T was also glad that we didn't name him Pythagoras and then called him "thagie" for short. 

Anyway, the kids enjoyed the story and then we got going with the lesson. 

This lesson is really a demonstration and exploration of congruent and similar figures. Here we have our square and triangle iron material. These can be used as fractions but they can also be used in our geometry studies. (Though I have recently read that the triangle and square inset iron materials were originally used by Maria Montessori only for geometry studies and not for fraction work.)

Congruent figures are both the same size and same shape. Similar figures are the same shape but can be different sizes. Both T and S got these mixed up and mixed up again. 

We stuck to congruent first and they traced and cut out congruent figures and pasted them into their working notebooks. Then we moved onto similar figures and did the same tracing and gluing. I think by the time we got to the latter, both children were running out of steam, so this might be a lesson and concept we'll have to revisit.
S figured out that if you trace the figure with one edge at the edge of the paper, you need to cut fewer edges.
I also introduced the mathematical symbol for congruent (\cong \!\,) and similar (\sim \!\,).

And this is it for the first part of our week. I know we got to more, but the camera didn't catch it all. I'll pop in again at the end of the week! Until then, have a good one.


  1. Great post! You are sooo much more creative that I was with the kinds of surprises you put in the open/close work. Love the brass knuckles shot. Me Too has trouble spotting the subtraction problems in that same book. He has trouble whenever they ask for the "difference" which is sad since he knows the result of a subtraction equation is CALLED the difference. Good job getting back at the geometry. We are using a different album for geometry. I should peek ahead and see when we'll get to the equivalence work. I have to sell some materials so that we can buy the rest of the plates we need. We do already have the ones pictured. We need the weird ones yet. I also should just order that money work from etc before I forget.

    1. I am also anxious to get the other "weird" iron materials too. I want to fill up the rest of the drawers and have that material be all done. Heck, I'd love to have a magic wand that made ALL the basic classroom materials we need be "done!" When you find that wand, can I borrow it?

  2. Hehe..."gangsta". Those rings are soon pretty! I can't let the girls see this post or they will be requesting that for their birthdays and proceed to lose them the first they day they wear one.

    I do so love the idea of putting stuff into the bags. I think I'll have to steal that idea for Swiper when the time comes. I need to start collecting things :). Thanks for sharing!

    1. That is why we give the babies the gold rings so they can't lose them! And as a side note, I didn't collect anything for these open/closed lessons. These were just odds and ends and momentos that we had laying around the house. Which reminds me that I need to change his "surprises" out again!

  3. Amazing post!! I completely read you post and it was very interesting. Well my dear as a party planner you did great arrangements for this birthday party. I am student and want to become a planner. Could you recommend a good graduation school for event management?