Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cold, cold, cold!

Week 9 Part 1 February 23, 2015

I think my northerner blood has thinned. It is hovering around freezing in these parts and I am just feeling cold. I am complaining about 34 degree temps when most of the country would just stick their tongue out at me. At this point, I am trying to remember what purple nail beds feel like so that I wouldn't go complaining in July when I feel like I need to shower off the sweat every half hour. I am just glad I didn't stick seeds in the ground yet. But that time is coming soon yet.

On to warmer and more important things in the school room.

Maybe after feeling good about seeing that week 9 meter up there, I am feeling a tiny bit more relaxed. Or maybe it is after finally putting to bed a couple of large primary card materials projects I am feeling a bit more on top of things (and then I see my list of things to do and I am not feeling really on top of anything, but a huge pile of work.) Last week certainly ended in a relaxed manner, and this week we picked up again in a pretty relaxed manner.
D was examining the life cycles of several animals. I found our Insect Lore plastic figures for the ant, the frog, the lady bug, and the butterfly life cycle in the closet right beside our lifecycle cards that I had made over a year ago. (Maybe they were from Helpful Garden...but I can't guarantee that they are still on her site. She has rearranged some items.) Anyway, I am seeking more appropriate life-cycle cards at the moment but D wanted to jump right in and touch everything. So I took a breath and decided to wing it.

He matched the plastic figures to the lifecycle strips (so my cards aren't really "cycles") just fine. Then I realized that besides butterflies he hadn't witnessed any other metamorphosis. Since we are in the very, very early parts of spring here (the trees are budding outside) and there probably wouldn't be very many specimens out of doors, I turned to the iPad and YouTube. We watched a couple of videos about bees, butterflies, frogs, and ants, and discussed what we saw along the way. (I'd strongly recommend watching all videos BEFORE showing them to your kids. You just don't know what is going to end up being a quality video and what is going to be junk. But if you were like me and were just winging everything, I'd just recommend staying in control of the mouse.) All three kids were fascinated with the video content and I made a note to self to research other ways we can learn a bit more about life cycles, maybe without having to host insects in our house.

In the shot above, D is comparing ant eggs on the iPad to the plastic replica he has in one hand and our geometric solid elipsoid in the other hand. He rejected the ovoid and decided that ant eggs were not ovoids. He thought that our butterfly egg replica looked like a sphere.

Oh, there is a lifecycle lesson page in the KotW Language album, but I haven't studied it yet.
Then D helped me with organizing some card materials. I FINALLY finished coloring in 234 sound cards I downloaded from Helpful Garden. (Again, I am not sure that this exact file is available still.) CRAZY. I was sure that I was going to finish this project AFTER D didn't need them anymore. But he still does, and I am relieved. 

These cards focus on beginning sounds, D is past the beginning sound stage and past the ending sound stage. We are working to recognize and segment middle sounds and these cards will be helpful for that too. He is holding "map" and looking at "muffin." I plan to use these for sound sorting games, I spy games, and phonogram segmenting as well.
Here D is helping me with MORE card material. Like Jenn, I am also working to put together a lot of primary card materials. D helped me make sure that no cards were missing in our geometric solid, insect, land and water form, flower, and tornado cards. The card sets were all jumbled up. He did a lot of categorical sorting that morning.
Also while digging through my storage closet, I found the primary readers I had hidden away. I KNEW that I hadn't kept one set and tossed out the rest. There they were, all together, in that plastic baggie. S was glad to get her hands on set 2A. I stupidly purchased sets 3 and 4 after hunting for these readers everywhere and not finding them, and set 2 had been on the shelves all along.

This punctuation lesson is an example of a natural environment language lesson. (Remind me Montessorians out there if there is a correct technical term for this...) T wanted to write "T's Tornado Dug Out." I told him to write it the way it sounds. He wrote "T*...s Tornado Dug Out." He then said, "Mom it sounds like there are a lot of Ts. There are a lot of me!" He thought this was funny. I said, "yes, that is the way it sounds, but what you mean is something different, no? Let's get out the printed alphabet and have a look." (Our printed alphabet is from Alison's.)

So, in an ideal situation we'd have two alphabets and they'd be in two colors, and our apostrophe would be red and our letters would be in black...but this is how it went down yesterday. I got out the red printed alphabet and he wrote "T*...s Tornado Dug Out." I separated the last letter in his name and the "s" and put an apostrophe in between. I explained that we use this special apostrophe when we want to let others know that something belongs to someone one. Then I asked him to write another apostrophe example so I could take a photo because I couldn't post something with his name on it. So he wrote the phrase in the picture above.
That was a wonderful prelude to T's tornado tangent. (Wow, that was some alliteration.)  I guess I shouldn't even say "tangent." It is more like, "tornado-the-real-deal-I want-to-be-a-scientist-when-I-grow-up." Anyway, he designed this "dug-out" not for mere survival but for scientific study. I believe there may be a few number of structural flaws with this blueprint plan but, at this point, I would guess D is really the civil engineer in the family, by the number of frequent crane and heavy construction sounds we hear daily, and in a few years he could help T revisit this project and tighten things up a bit?
This was his expanded blueprint version. He had back-up power batteries, multiple entries and exits with computer locks on them, and a kitchen and eating area if they had to spend some serious time underground. He is still puzzling about how he wants to construct his viewing window so that if a tornado passes right above them, he could look up and see inside the tornado. He thinks it would be good to build some ground radar to better measure what is going on with the weather conditions low down. I don't think we've seen the last of T's tornadoes yet.
Yikes, I just looked at this picture and D is cutting with his right hand (with lefty scissors. Gotta get him some different scissors.) (Well Gramps, he could be taking after you even more than S.) I feel like I talk a lot about handed-ness on the blog. So we'll skip the scissors part of this and just say that D loved this crafting activity.

I put together several cutting papers customized to accommodate D's interests and loves. We tried the traditional papers with lines on them but that was fun for about 1 minute and then he never touched that work again.

This time I just Googled pics that were appealing to D, modified them in Word, printed them out, cut them into strips and he got to work, cutting, gluing and sticking each picture. He really, really, really liked this lesson. I think he worked on this for an hour.
Each time the glue stick got stuck to the picture he had to come and show me. I think this happened like 27 times.
We are still working on cutting straight lines only, but I will think of other ways to incorporate dogs, emergency vehicles, designer sports cards, and construction vehicles into the other wavy and zigzag cutting papers that are in a typical Montessori classroom.
He does, by the way, take extra care when he cuts these to make sure he is cutting on the line as well as he can. If he makes a mistake, he tapes the strip back together and re-cuts. It is cute to watch.
I also made strips of different widths. He was very proud of his work.
I made him more printed strips for the next day. This was the first work he wanted to do the following day.
D's favorite drink is Izze. He told me that there were a lot to cut on that strip.

Here we have the concentration face and finally, we also have right handed scissors.

The glue stick goes all the way down to here.
Appropriate glue stick hand position.
And then all that glue sticking lead to some natural practical life activities. D came up to me and told me that his glue stick rolled under one of the shelves. We retrieved a long and skinny tool, a ruler, and he used this to knock the glue stick out from under the shelves. 

The second time the glue stick rolled under the shelves, (I think he might have done this on purpose) and he had recovered it with a ruler, it rolled out all covered in dust. D said, "it is dusty!" I helped him clean it off and after he washed his hands I suggested he might dust under the shelves.
He got our wool classroom duster and went to work.

Unfortunately, I didn't see where he put all the dust that he got on his duster. Humn. Maybe I need to vacuum in the classroom again tomorrow.
Yesterday I received this in the mail. It has been on my "wish list" for probably about a year now. This set comes with a very large number of shapes and wooden cards. Half the figures are shapes and half are animals and plants. I chose to put out only shapes as a first introduction and use this material as a mystery bag substitute. (The mystery bags are in the KotW sensorial album.)
S got to try out this work first partly because I wanted her to know how to use it so she could do this activity with D later on.

The wooden cards are laid out in front of the child and the wooden forms are in the bag. After the child sensitizes the hands and fingers, the child places his/her dominant hand inside the bag and selects a wooden form and removes it. After feeling the form with both hands, the child then feels the wooden cards and selects the one with the same shape as the wooden form he/she has selected.
The child can place the wooden form in the wooden card cut out to check for accuracy. The child will perform the entire exercise without the use of sight. This lesson helps the child refine his/her sense of touch.
This is how S chose to present the lesson to D.

This is D doing the lesson with S.
This is D doing the lesson without S.
He looks like the people in Asia who wear surgical masks to protect them from germs while taking public transportation.
We also got to a bit of practical practical life. Hot Cocoa had a couple of holes and his stuffing was coming out. So we replaced a bit of stuffing and sewed him back up. I did the small sewing project myself, but demonstrated every step along the way. This little guy's fur was so long it was very hard to see what I was sewing. I think that S's first real sewing project should probably not be furry.
The kids also got to do a couple of measurement task cards. (We got ours from ETC Montessori and have been very happy with our set.) Here S is just drawing how many 2ml spoons it takes to fill a 50ml beaker.
And finally, a little bit of "other" work. Here T is making a "candy volcano" from a book. (I can't remember the title. I picked up in the bookstore discount bin about a year ago.) We used this activity to learn a bit about pre-planning and how to finish the work cycle.

Last week T told me he wanted to do this activity. I asked him what materials he needed and I said that when I went grocery shopping after church I could get anything we don't already have on hand. I asked him to write down a materials-we-need shopping list. A bit later he handed me a cursive shopping list on blue banded paper. (On Sunday I purchased everything on his list at the store and then asked him to put everything away in the pantry in a place where he could find it later. I feel that this last part was a key part since how would he be able to independently set up his project if he didn't know where mommy had stashed everything. He didn't go with me to the grocery store because he was in Sunday School.)
Fast forward to Monday. We reviewed the book instructions and discussed how to make the jello volcano mountain. He found everything he needed in the kitchen and organized his mis en place. He also got his sister to help him. Then we also talked about a lot of different things you might need to trouble shoot when doing an activity like this. For instance, the instructions say to set the jello in a bowl with an upside down cup at the bottom of it. When the jello bowl is flipped upside down, and the jello mountain is un-molded, there will be a depression where the cup once was that can hold your "lava." T first figured out which bowl would fit 4 cups of jello. Then we had to figure out how to get the cup to stay at the bottom of the bowl. There was air in it, so it would always flip right side up when submerged in liquid. We also had to find the right sized cup that we could completely cover with the 4 cups of jello. (There was a lot of thought process in this set up and I am really glad that I was there to help T through it all. I know when I set up a project I just make all of these decisions by myself. How will T ever be able to prepare his own projects if I am always making these "behind-the-scenes" assessments without him?)

After figuring all that out (we just let some of the air out of the upside down cup so it would stay at the bottom of the bowl) I helped him with the jello making and with the boiling water. Then he set the whole thing in the fridge to set overnight.
After warming the jello bowl we got it unmolded, but not without cracking it. (You can tell that I don't do molded jello desserts very often.) Then T stuck a plastic bin cover under the plate and started making the volcano erupt.

As you can probably tell already, you stick mentos in the jello mountain and then fill the depression with soda. When they mix, they fizz and overflow. It actually wasn't all that impressive. I think if we were to repeat this lesson we'd use about twice as much jello to make a twice as big mountain. I would also get twice as many mints, and I would have done the entire experiment outside, maybe near the storm drain so I wouldn't be killing the lawn with the cola run-off.
Afterward, everyone worked on cleaning up.
After everything was wiped up, towels were put in the laundry, the dishes were washed by the kids and put away, and extra supplies were stashed, we called it a day.


  1. I haven't read the whole post, but just the first bit... Jenn on Oh No Pancakes has some lifecycle things and other KOTW printables :-)

  2. Told you I hadn't read the rest of the post :-)

  3. Hah! I'm stealing ideas from you without even knowing it! I just bought the Guidecraft Feel & Find activity for DJ and I bought our first set of Safari Life Cycle sets for the frog. I still need to get the others but we're not ready for them yet. I want to do invertebrate vs vertebrate first, which we'll do this week.

  4. OOo, thanks for the idea on cutting. Our traditional cutting exercise also went out the window after about 1 minute of "ooo! New material on the shelf!" I really need to learn not to get frustrated with materials I spend long hours making that the kids aren't interested in.