In the beginning my kids used what I had provided them as a checklist. I wanted them to understand how to MAKE THEIR OWN checklists.
I had this "conversation" in the comments of my last post and then had an epiphany. What if...I had a conversation with each child about what they did last week, what they would like to repeat, what they would like to pick up that had been neglected for a few weeks, and, with my input and guidance, what new areas might they like to explore? What if...from this conversation together we developed a "work plan" or list of works for the week?
I realized that I love planning. I really do. I like making lists, sequencing, getting things done, and checking things off. I thought, might the kids also like a list of things to do? Might they like a clue as to what is coming up next and how to prepare for that event? Well, do they know how to make a list or how to prepare, or even what comes next? Probably not, and that is where I, the guide, can help. We will make their "check-list" if you want to call it that, or "work-plan" if you want to call it that together. In conversation. I know the scope and sequence and I know, through observation, where they need more practice and where they are ready to move forward. I can suggest they move in these directions. But through our conversation, they get a lot of input as to what goes on the list. They get to choose what from that list they do each day. They get to choose how much time they spend on that chosen activity. They also get to decide how fast or slow they'd like to move through each lesson. I am the one who entices them to continue forward (though it is really they who choose to move forward) by giving them teasers about what comes next. There aren't other children in our environment working on what comes next. So I need to let them know, "hey, if you want to use the decimal fraction board, you need to finish work X, Y, and Z." Then T can choose to put X, Y, and Z on his work plan list and he can choose to work on those works during the week.
To me, this method felt right. It seems way more collaborative. The child can exercise their freedom to choose. And I, as the guide, can well, guide them along, giving them a push where they need it, suggestions where they need them, and new material when that is needed too. In the end there is a check-list, but it is made by the child.
I should also mention at this point, that their check-list is meant to be a "reminder." There are no check-off boxes. The child is welcome to repeat a work. They don't need to do every work on the list every day. They don't need to cover every work on the list in that week. They do need to be mindful of what they put down and what they have done and what they haven't completed. But as I see it, life evolves. I never get to everything I put down on my to-do list each week. I prioritize and some things get bumped up, repeated, or tossed out. I am only slightly worried that there will be an area that they thing is just horrible and they will refuse to work in this area. My plan to handle this, as of right now, is to present. If the initial presentation doesn't work, we do revisit in upper el, or I could re-present in a different manner that might catch their attention a bit more. I can also introduce some follow-up work that could be interesting and engaging as well. I feel it is really up to me, the guide, to engage their interests and find a way present the "key" lessons in a manner they find interesting.We'll see how this pans out. I'll keep you posted. :)
And now to our regularly schedule program...
I have a ton of photos the first part of this week. I did a ton of planning this past weekend. I rearranged a ton of things in the classroom, and for the first time since we started I felt more comfortable about how proceed.
S started off the week with some Color Tab Box 3 work.This box contains 9 sets of graded colored tabs...as you can probably see. I've seen it recommended in both the Primary sensorial album and the Elementary Art album. (As you also probably already know, I use the Keys of the World and the Keys of the Universe.) Even so, the approximate age for presenting is 3.5 yrs to 5+ years. Generally, this work helps hone the child's visual sense and ability to identify distinctions between different color gradients. Some of these sequences are NOT easy! I wrote about why I had S start this work int this post last week.
Here S is doing an extension I made up purely based upon what she has been doing and seemed interested in in the classroom. After she organized all the colors from darkest to lightest, she got out her colored pencil set and started grading the different hues. First she pulled out all her "red" pencils and then organized them on the rug from darkest to lightest. Then she drew her own color tabs on a paper, using each pencil in turn, organizing them all from darkest to lightest. S really liked this work.
Then T asked to do this work too. I feel that this might help T enhance his artistry.
Then, we brought the problem number cards to a different rug across the room. We selected a 4-digit multiplicand and a 2-digit multiplier. T picked out the number cards for each hierarchy. For the multiplicand, T picked out 8,000; 100; 50 and 3. And for his multiplier, he picked out a 3 and a 0 to make "30" and over the 0, he placed an 8 in the units position. (Usually in an elementary classroom, there would be three people doing the different roles here. Someone would be organizing the rug cards, some one would be running between the mats, and the other person would be managing the "answer" number cards, which are in the "bank." Because T is the only one in our classroom, he gets to do all three jobs.)
Then we decompose the multiplicand and the multiplier as you can see in the photo above.
Then we multiply each part of the multiplicand by the unit multiplier or in our case "8." T is doing the math in his head here, and not organizing his "answer" cards correctly. You'll see that 5*8 is 30, so he placed a "30" answer card from the other mat/bank to the left of his problem.
Then he multiplied through. I think in the photo above, he's gone to get the 64,000.
Sorry about this photo, I almost forgot to take a shot of this step. After we've multiplied through by "8" we multiply through by "30" which is the rest of the multiplier. Instead of multiplying 5*30, we multiply 50*3, and transfer the "0" to the multiplicand. Here he is multiplying 80,000*3.
Then we have all the partial products lined up to the left. And so we add them together. T added 30+50 and went to exchange these number cards for 80 at the bank.
When he was finished exchanging all the number cards, this was his final answer all put together. Neat humn?
T then tried another problem, but this time needed to do something a little bit different with the answer cards. (Sorry, I didn't get a shot of his first step.) He picked up the "10" answer card when he multiplied 10*1. Then he needed another "10" answer card when he multiplied 10*1. So, instead he exchanged his first "10" answer card for a "20" to represent both partial products.
This was his second final answer.
This work comes sandwiched between the Large Bead Frame and the Flat Bead Frame and Checkerboard multiplication. This work can presented after the LBF and before or after the FBF but before the Checkerboard.
I ask you readers who may know, is there a reason to have T linger with the FBF if he is already doing 3-digit multiplication problems on paper only and ignores the LBF? I want him to work longer with the hierarchies that we see in the Bank Game and then with the Checkerboard so he understands how these work within the multiplication problems but I don't know if the FBF is a step he can simply skip. At this point, is there another reason to have him do this work?I went through our Montessori storage closet yesterday, looking for fishing wire to hang glittered snowflakes from our dining room ceiling for S's party, and re-found our open/closed work. (I spent 2 1/5 hours going up and down a ladder yesterday.) (Well not all of the work, there are a few items missing I think. Moving does that. Make things go missing.) Anyway, I re-introduced this work, and D immediately re-named it "surprises" because indeed, there are surprises in each little item.
Monday, this was the "surprise" line-up. Little erasers I got a while ago from the dollar store that all have vehicles printed on them.
And two little crayon buttons because the erasers were too large for a few of the containers.
He was delighted that he got to choose which "surprise" went back in which container.
This Chinese coin pouch was a doozey to try and figure out how to open.
This was D's face today after I whispered to him that the "surprises" changed.
This is the random stuff I stuck in there today.
D did this work for 15 minutes straight and there were a lot of initial, "whoa's" and "ohhh's." This work develops hand strength and coordination, which D needs really badly.THIS is why I introduced S to the Color Tab box 3. Here she is using our prepare slides and drawing her own illustrations of what she sees.
Ugh, sorry for the blurry picture, but it was a shot that captured her in action.
I don't know if I've introduced you to our "tape-dog." We got him from Office Max I think. If your tape dispenser is an irregular figure it is only some-what harder to mis-place it.
S also worked on some penmanship. Here she is working with the sandpaper letters and blue banded paper.
Although remembering the word forms is challenging, she has no problem getting creative with the spelling or thinking up what she wants to write. She was very enthusiastic about this work.
I also had S help me change out the flags on our giant flag poles. These are just from North and South America. (The material is from Alisons.) (You can read my rant about these here.)
Then S selected new flags and looked them up in our flag book.
I think this time she picked the Bahamas, Peru, Paraguay, Guyana, and Surinam. Then she drew each flag in her working notebook and labeled them.
S finished off the Waseca animal biome readers for South America and called D over to say "good-bye" to the Chinchilla book. Then she organized the laminated cards and booklets for the Asia biome readers in our Waseca box, which fits perfectly. (I like it when this happens. And the box comes with the complete set of animal biome readers.)On Monday, D was acting a little impossible.
REALLY? WHAT?? Turns out I had forgotten that he hadn't had breakfast. He slept through it. He was just acting "hangry" (hungry and angry.) After a little food in the tum-tum, he was all smiles again.
These are the lists of the "work-plans" S and T made for the week. We keep these as reminder lists for now. I am trying not to be too concerned about them getting fixated on one work. My peaceful side is saying, "breath, there is always tomorrow."
T is using the US map as a warm-up for his state/country memorization. Then he took out the map of Europe, removed and replaced all the countries he remembered and then selected three countries he didn't know.
He traced, colored and labeled Moldova, Romania, and Croatia. Then I had to print out a map of Europe so he could color in and label the countries he has memorized and keep this as his record of countries he has done.
D's talk to the hand. "I am working Mama." This is a new smelling exercise. I used liquid smoke (it's near the BBQ sauce in the grocery aisle), citronella candle wax, lavender essential oil and Ralph Lauren perfume from one of those magazine inserts. (I got this list of scents from the KotW sensorial album.) (I had fun putting this one together since I got to try out my new Iwatani kitchen torch to melt the candle wax. Next I'll be using the torch to attempt making Elsa's frozen ice castle out of isomalt.)
I talk a little bit more about the Smelling exercise here.
Here he is a little more happy.
And here he is not doing the exercise correctly, but rather matching the control stickers on the bottoms of the smelling bottles, rather than matching the bottles by smelling them.Oh, red rods. I am trying to encourage this area a bit since D is expressing interest in the numbers department. I need to do red-rods before we get to number rods, cards, and sandpaper numbers and all the rest. Oh, hey, does it matter that he hasn't learned the English alphabet but can learn to write and read numbers first? Should I hold off until he has the sandpaper letter letters down? Any advice would be really appreciated here!
Anyway, here he is doing the simple first installment of the red rods. They are mixed up, but all flush to the left side. And then he is grading them, albeit backward, from longest, up to shortest. The longest should be at the top and the shortest at the bottom. At first he had a hard time, but as he worked, he got it on his own.
He likes swiping each one as he places it in order on the rug. He also likes transporting the rods, with one hand at each end to really experience each "quantity." The shortest rod, which represents "1," is really 1/10th the length of the longest rod, which represents "10," and which is too long for D to hold at each end.
Finishing it up. Upside down.