Friday, February 20, 2015


Week 8, Part - first and last, February 16, 2015

Sometimes there are distractions. This week there was a lot that distracted me from blogging. So to not get further distracted from blogging, I'll just jump right in and start; there is a lot to cover.
I don't remember where I mentioned that we circled back around and are going through the elementary geography lessons again. So I'll mention it again. We started from the beginning of the Sun and the Earth section and this lesson is the Tilt of the Axis lesson. (I wrote more about this lesson here.) During this lesson we talked about how the earth doesn't rotate around itself vertically, but rather at a tipped angle. When the kids tried to rotate around themselves at a tipped angle they had a pretty hard time. Then, we explored how this affects how far or close we are, here in the US, to the sun at any given time of the year. During the summer months, we are tipped closer to the sun and during the winter months, we are tipped away from the sun.
T chimed in that this is why in the summer it feels hotter since we are tipped toward the sun.
This was the first tipped earth demonstration with a clay ball on a knitting needle and a tack in it that represents our continent (even though it is yellow. Somehow I didn't think grab a North America orange tack.)
Then T took out our DK Eyewonder Weather book to look at this diagram.

We were going to proceed with the next lesson about the seasons and the two tropics, but you'll see below we got pulled in another physical geography direction.
S finished addition chart 1, which is the first chart in the entire primary math memorization sequence.
So she started on addition chart 2. It is sort of hard to see in this picture, but there is a single column of addends to the left in red. The child will select a problem card, (from the same set as was used for addition chart 1.) If the problem reads 3+5=, the child will typically place her right finger on the 3 in the red column, and her left finger on the 5 in the red column. The right hand would track right, to the end of 3's row, and then track down to the 5's row. The left hand would track right in the 5's row until both fingers meet in the square with an 8 in it and this would be the sum. S is using different hands to do the same thing. The child generally notes the equations and answers on squared paper and can use the control chart to check his/her work.

There are two more different addition charts in the math memorization sequence. After these charts we will begin the subtraction snake game if she is interested.

Those are little paper "Shopkins" on her fingers. They start out in different aisles and then meet at the same place in the store. I don't know where to go to find out more about Shopkins, and I don't know where my daughter found out about these silly things, so if you do need more information about this ridiculous toy, Google it.
We finally, finally, finally, got to some of the first primary geography lessons. This thread of lessons is tucked away at the very end of the Sensorial album under the Sensorial Aspects of the World. This is the World Puzzle Map lesson.

D has already had experience with both the sandpaper globe and the continents globe. Presently, he isn't very interested in either of these materials.

In this lesson we use the continents globe, on which all the continents are painted a different color, and the world map that shows the two hemispheres. Each continent is a cut-out puzzle piece and is painted different colors that correspond to the continents globe. (You can see all the colors in the shot above, so I am not going to list them here.)

First I asked for D's help in gathering all the materials. He fetched the rug and the continents globe. I showed him where the world map was located in our classroom (right at the top of our map cabinet) and I gathered our other lesson materials. 

First we found all the matching continents on both the spherical globe and the two dimensional map. Then I explained that even though one representation was spherical and the was other flat that they both actually show us the same thing.
I had a ball of clay to represent our spherical globe. I cut it in half with a butter knife and then we squished each half sphere out flat to represent the 2 dimensional map circles.
(This is not the in the KotW albums, but after reading about MBT's lesson I chose to insert this into our presentation.) I, very poorly, approximated the continent outlines on this blue rubber ball using a Sharpie pen.

I had to approximate and plan the layout a bit in advance since I needed to get that huge bar code thing to be in the middle of an ocean. Sorry Guam. 

Also, you can kind of see here in this shot that I made some cutting guidelines in marker too. When you cut the ball in half, and the air deflates, it is hard to tell where you are cutting, and if you are actually cutting the sphere in half evenly. So, a note to future doers-of-this activity, make some inconspicuous cut markings BEFORE you let the air out of the ball.
Then we cut the earth in half and flattened it out.
Then I made some extra snips to make the halves lay a little flatter.

Then after all that cutting, we started working on the world puzzle map. With this material we introduce the names of each of the continents. In this initial lesson I stuck to the 2nd period, asking D things like, "would you please remove North America?" and "please replace Africa." We did 5 out of 7 continents and T and S helped ask D questions too. Next up, we'll continue taking out and replacing all the pieces until we learn all of the continent names.
We also, finally, finally, finally, got to the first Land and Water Forms lesson. (This lesson is also in the Sensorial album in the Sensorial Aspects of the World section.) It just took me a LONG time to figure out what clay to get for this lesson, and then to locate that clay. (Thanks mom for the tips here.) I ended up using EZ Form Modeling clay, like this, but I bought it local so it didn't cost this much. This stuff smells...a lot. And it is hard to wash off your hands. But it works REALLY well for these land and water forms. I bought two multi-color packages but I only used 2-white 1-black, 2-brown, and 1-green.

I finally gave in and stopped searching for the "right pan" and just used these Glad-ware containers left over from Christmas (that is why these are red.) They have covers, which is perfect for protecting the clay, and preventing the stinky smell to permeate the house. 

I warmed the clay up on the microwave for a few minutes before I got to kneading it and blending it into one color. I was pretty satisfied that it all came out: a darker, brown-ish grey color--very neutral. The best way to knead this stuff, since it can stain clothing and counter tops, is to twist it in your hands. Just twist, twist, twist, and the colors meld nicely.
Here we set up with all of the clay in one container, in this case it was the container on the right. The container on the left was empty, but D gladly filled it halfway with water from a pitcher we filled in the sink. Then I, with a blunt knife, cut out an irregular figure from the middle of the clay layer and placed it in the water-filled basin to the left. It is important to make sure that the clay figure is not submerged and that the water level is lower than the top of the clay figure. Then the child can pour water to fill the empty spot in the clay cut out in the container on the right.

Then I gave D the language that goes along with this land form and water form. The water form on the right is called a "lake." The land form on the left is called an "island." Then we confirm this nomenclature using the three period lesson.
To clean up, the child will slowly and carefully pour the water from the containers into, in our case, the sink. In a regular classroom, he/she may be pouring into a water bucket on the floor to be discarded in a sink area. Then the clay in the water form container is dabbed dry with a cloth and the clay from the water form container is set inside with the rest of the clay. Then D dried the empty water form container with the same cloth and put the top on the clay container. (We used cloth diapers as drying rags.)
After the initial presentation, we explored other pre-formed land and water forms. (I think mine are from Montessori Outlet and they are hard plastic. I sanded each down and painted them green and blue, could have done this in brown and blue??, with outdoor patio paint. This paint is just water resistant and is different than regular acrylic paint.) The pair above represent a peninsula and a gulf.
This pair represent an island and a lake. Our other pair represents a straight and an isthmus.
D commented that he wanted a boat to float on the water. I snipped some small pieces of balsa wood so he could float a boat around the island. He said that his boat had no where to go in the lake.
T got into a little embroidery this week. He is working with yarn, a tapestry needle, and plastic canvas. Here he is filling in. I think that this is a Mario Brothers star. And that other figure is a Mario Karts racer.
S is starting the Bells Notation sequence. T is at the other end of this thread but I am positive that S is going start gaining on him rapidly.

Before the lesson you see above, we did a lesson examining whole steps, half steps and tetrachords. I didn't get any pics of S doing this first lesson. I thought that I posted about this when T did this lesson, but if I did I can't find it. Sorry...maybe I'll get to post about it when D gets to this.
So the next lesson is naming the bells. (This lesson also comes before the lesson you see in the shots above.) In the initial presentation we are simply playing a pitch and naming the pitch orally. I'd strike the d-bell and say, this pitch is called "d." Then we'd pick another pitch and name that pitch. S caught on pretty quickly and figured out that the names span from a to g. 

After reviewing the note names orally, we pulled out the white note name disks and labeled each pitch. S thought this was pretty neat. The next lessons are games that help give the opportunity for the child to develop perfect pitch.
D is revisiting the metal insets. (I wrote more about this lesson here and here. The first link, for those who are so inclined to revisit it, is a summary of a Montessori Reading sequence seminar I took with a Montessori Foundation representative. It was a very rich talk with lots about childhood development and theory. Pop by if you'd like to read some great not-in-the-albums tips including some regarding metal insets.)
There are ten metal insets in the set. All have a pink 5"x5" border and a blue figure in the middle with a small knob for removal. (If you are curious to know all the figures, Google Montessori metal insets.) These insets are to be used with colored pencils, 5"x5" squared paper, and a tray with two sections, one for paper, and one for the inset and groves at the top for pencils. 

My album states that the prerequisites for this material are the geometry cabinet, tactile materials, some sandpaper letters, the leaf cabinet and the cylinder blocks. The child will have already done a lot of finger tracing with the geometry cabinet and leaf cabinet pieces and this will help them trace the perimeter of the insets. I would image that the tactile materials aid the child in properly feeling the sandpaper letters and also help the child develop the lightness of touch needed to achieve proper pencil pressure. The cylinder blocks also have small knobs at their top and using this material aids the child in developing the correct 3-point pencil grasp. 

Of all the prerequisites I see here, I am unsure why the child would need to have begun the sandpaper letters before starting work with the metal insets. As I understand it, the sandpaper letters typically have a very short life in the child's 3-6 classroom experience. The Dwyer/AMI sequence suggests that children only spend 3-6 weeks with the sandpaper letters only after they have learned all of their aural sounds. I can see that handwriting comes a bit after the child begins to be able to write. But when the child is practically ready to move on from the sandpaper letters and begin writing as soon as they begin the sandpaper letters, I can imagine that it might be wise to begin with the metal insets earlier than beginning the sandpaper letters. The only things I can think of is that I may have my sensitive periods mixed up and that the sensitive period for touching the sandpaper letters does indeed come before the sensitive period for designing with a pencil using the metal insets. Or, that the time between first beginning to write after the sandpaper letters and beginning to hand-write on paper is long enough to allow sufficient practice with the metal insets. 

My albums suggest the age for starting the metal insets is 3 1/2 years. Perhaps children in a true Montessori classroom would be able to segment any word with any number of sounds and would have started sandpaper letters before this age. D is 3.75 yrs and can segment any 3 sound word that includes any of the 40+ sounds. Still we have a little ways to go so we before starting the sandpaper letters.

Anyway, as I mentioned before there are 11 stages to this lesson and work with this material extends into Elementary. 

First we invite the child to a lesson and introduce the material. I showed D where I kept the inset board, his colored pencils, (I have a container of Prismacolor pencils for each child instead of keeping 11 pencil holders each filled with different colored pencils) the papers, and the insets themselves. I showed him how to load the inset onto the board and carry it back to the table. 

I removed the blue inset figure and laid this aside. Then I overlaid the pink frame over the paper and checked to see if there was paper through the frame. (If there is no paper, or the child forgets this step, he/she will end up writing on the tray.) Then I chose a color and deliberately placed my fingers in a tripod pencil grasp. (I actually modeled this lesson using my left hand. I am righty.) I secured the frame with my right hand and then, starting in the upper left corner, I traced clockwise around the inset, stopping when I reached my first mark. (At this point because I was giving this lesson on the fly so I didn't complete the rest of the lesson. The next step would have been to remove the pink frame, place the blue knobbed inset piece exactly within the lines, choose another color pencil, and then while securing the blue inset with its knob, trace around the inset clockwise, starting and ending at 5:00. You would start and end at 7:00 if you were righty and holding the blue inset knob with the left hand. Then we would have removed the inset to reveal the double line. Then with a third color we would have filled in the inside of the shape using a single continuous stroke, moving the pencil down and up from left to right, making all lines about 1 cm apart.) 

There are many, many additional stages to this lesson, all of which aid the child in gaining finer pencil control. I will not go into all of them here.

D muttered the entire time I re-presented this lesson, "I already KNOW this work." He holds his pencil with the proper grip, but incredibly low. I am thinking I should hack his pencils in half. Anyone have a band saw they can lend me? When your pencil is top-heavy it is hard to control your line and it makes writing uncomfortable. I have a fountain pen I use on a semi-regular basis for important correspondence and it is one that doesn't post. Every now and again I'll forget, and stick the cap on the end of the pen, and about a quarter of the way down the page I realize what has been messing up my penmanship and remove the cap.

After all that muttering, D did one metal inset tracing and then was done with the work.
We've been working so hard on moving down the math and language threads, I think the kids have gotten a little bored. So, I pulled out the iPad the other day and started working on sparking some new interest. First we watched some PBSVideo videos on tornadoes here and here. (Warning, these internet pages contain PBS Kids logos, so if you are opening these pages while your children are around they will probably want you to click over.) We paused along the way during each of these videos to discuss the science that people know, or don't know, behind tornadoes. I also made these tornado 3-part cards, and am working on a short definition booklet. (I modeled these after these great ones here. She offers free printables!!) And I ordered a couple of tornado-specific books from Amazon. 
Then we looked up some science experiments about tornadoes. We found things like a "tornado in a bottle" but after watching these videos, I felt that these types of demonstrations, well, don't actually demonstrate what is going on inside a tornado. In fact, scientists don't understand what is going on inside a tornado, how they form, or why they form. After watching the videos, I felt that the best way to give the kids some more information about the weather conditions that could create a tornado event was to turn to the KotU geography albums and the lessons about the Work of Air.
Ahh, the kitchen torch was useful again. (I used this torch to make S's ice castle cake, and to light my husband's birthday candles (there were a lot of them) and now to make this experiment work. Oh, and yes, I have used it make creme brulee but not yet for sous-vide.)

This was the Preludes to the Winds 2nd demonstration from the KotU Geography album. The shot above involved, well the set up you see above. The black stuff is clay that is keeping the aluminum knitting needle up-right. The pan is a disposable aluminum brownie tin, and the spiral is made out of regular copy paper. I punched a tiny hole in the center of the paper spiral with a large thumbtack and placed it over the tip of the knitting needle. 

The albums suggest you place tea-lights below the paper. Supposedly the tea lights will heat the air below the paper. This hot air will rise up and make the paper spiral rotate. MBT had a very difficult time getting this to happen. (Visit her blog to see her funny videos!) So I turned up the heat but not as much as a gas-range burner...(the Itwani torch burns at 9,725 BTUs at the top, but I didn't need that much for this demonstration) and this seemed to do the trick. The paper rotated beautifully. I didn't take any video because I was holding one seriously hot item while trying to keep it low enough to not catch the paper on fire. (Oh, darn, I could have totally put the GoPro on D and had HIM film everything!) I wouldn't suggest using bamboo knitting needs for this activity.

Okay, getting back to the tornado thing...apparently scientists seem to think that one condition that is conducive to a tornado event is hot air mixing with cool air. Here, in this demonstration we could see the effects of hot air rising, and that it makes things move. In a tornado event, there is very often cold wind sheer, "scraping" over a flow of hot air. The hot air lifts, hits the cold air, cools and then sinks again. When the cold air crosses the hot air, this lifting and sinking can cause vertical wind rotation. One of the parts that scientists don't understand is how this vertical rotation sometimes turns horizontal to present a true tornado event.

Anyway, after these Prelude to the Winds demonstrations we will definitely be doing more Work of Air lessons and tornado investigating.
A bit more polishing. I found a cup that was in SERIOUS need of some polishing. D was glad to do the job. I talk about this practical life work more here. (There are other back posts linked to that post.)
And some dressing frames for D. I think that S sometimes helps him with his pajama buttons and he watches. He was able to complete this dressing frame laying down on the floor much more easily than when he was sitting in a chair at a table. 
The dressing frames are part of the practical life, care of self sequence. They are preparation for the obvious dressing and undressing we do in real life everyday.
D did the snap frame, the hook-eye frame, the button frame, the zipper frame, and the buckle frame all by himself. (Our frames are from Montessori Outlet.)

And then there was a little play.

I've been working on getting card material set up for primary. I so very much wish that I had discovered the Keys of the World and the Keys of the Universe albums at the very beginning of my journey. It wasn't until an entire spring (during which I had only one child who napped and two in school all day) and a summer (which was completely unscheduled) and a fall passed that I found these resources. I guess I am glad that it was later rather than never. I feel like I've been on "catch-up" duty ever since.

I am finding that D knows of, and has had experience with, a great number of things. But, he doesn't always know the names of these things. I asked D if he knew the names of any of the items in any of the cards. He pointed to the blender card and said, "smoothie." Close. I explained that we make smoothies inside a blender, and that the item in the picture was called a blender. So, we are reviewing card materials for items he has already experienced in real life. These are considered "social classification" cards and they are part of the early primary language sequence.

I had originally purchased a set of "kitchen" cards from Montessori Print Shop. They are perfectly nice cards but the images didn't reflect the items we actually have in our kitchen. (You can see in this post that the "fish spatula" card he is holding doesn't match our actual spatula.) So, I re-did the card set to reflect the actual brand and model of the items D sees and uses every day. (Oh, he also called the tongs "grabbers" and made crab claw hands. Very cute.)
This is how T and D like to do sandpaper numerals. You can see more action with this material here and my thoughts about D starting this material here.
And then afterward, this is how they read books together. (I think that this is an Amelia Bedelia book.)
D is about 3.75 years old at this point and we are working hard on the sound games. Here we have a ton of sound objects and here he is playing with the sound objects. He does focus though and answer questions and voluntarily assign sounds. We are working on middle sounds now and he doesn't seem to get confused working on multiple sounds at one time. What I mean by multiple sounds, is that he can segment, "church" right after "cat" right after "read" right after "boom." He can successfully segment three sound words about 95% of the time. I am seeing that consonant blends are more difficult for him to segment, perhaps partly because he doesn't yet pronounce all of these words clearly. "Truck" is pronounced, "ch-r-u-k" and he segments it "chr-u-ck." I wonder if this is the same for other children. 

I'll also note our sound work is done outside the classroom the majority of the time. When we are eating, or on the potty, or looking at pictures, we will segment words and cover new sounds. Now that we have arrived at middle sounds, I am introducing many more double letter phonogram sounds.

I think a few areas we need to focus on again are, the I-spy game, and the "can you think of a word that includes X sound" game. We usually just play the, "hey there is soap, what are the sounds in soap?" game as we are washing hands. After he becomes proficient at segmenting multi-sound words I will introduce the sandpaper letters. 
S continued on with the constructive triangles boxes finding equivalent, congruent and similar figures. This is the large hexagonal box. These lessons are in the elementary geometry album. (You can read more about S's work with these materials here.)

S finished the dynamic stamp game multiplication. So, we are headed back to the collective golden bead exercises to do the first division lesson and then division with bows before finishing up with stamp game division. 

Maybe we did this flip flop again because it was how T did it. He was so eager to get to racks and tubes and hadn't done division in Montessori school that we went right from ninja division to the racks and tubes. Maybe this made the new division perhaps easier to go from one material directly to another without having to cycle through all the other operations again?

Maybe I have it in my head that breaking down numbers is harder than building them up and therefore have projected my sorry adult notions onto the children. Whatever it may be, this is how it came to be for us. I skipped golden bead division with S and chose to circle back around to it once we were at a place where we could start it and carry it through to a new material right afterward. 

So in the shot above, S is getting ready to give each tray an equal amount. To back up a bit, we had already laid out three sets of small number cards on a rug. (The numbers aren't small, the cards are just smaller than the ones that you see in the shot below.) And the golden beads are laid out on another rug which we called our "store." 

I selected some large number cards to represent our quantity, and then selected the corresponding number of beads. Then S worked to divide up the beads evenly among the three trays.
She thought it would be nice if each tray was represented by a baby. In the shot above, you see that we followed the rules of division and started dividing up the beads in the largest category first, or in this case the thousands. Next we divided up the hundred squares, then the ten bars, and lastly the units. (Please note that our rug set up is not like the set up in the KotW albums. We were a little short on space and participants, so we used stuffed animals instead and the cards and other things are arranged differently.)
Here S changed out a few of the babies, from left to right, we have, Hot Cocoa, Baby, and Marie.
Next we found the small number cards that represent the quantities that each baby received. 
Then we read our equation, 9960/3 = 3321. S did fine with this concept. The layout is a bit arduous, though if you've been doing the collective exercises for a while just prior, maybe laying out four sets of number cards isn't a big deal.

Or first problems divided evenly, and didn't require any borrowing, nor did they have any remainders. We'll cover these concepts with the golden beads next, before moving on to division with bows. S is super, super, super excited about division with bows.

T is on to one of the last multiplication checkerboard exercises. 
This time we are multiplying by category. We place the same number tiles as always and we multiply the same combinations as before, but instead of working horizontally we work diagonally. Our first combination is units x units, or 5x8. Then we work the tens boxes, or units x tens and tens x units (4x6 and 5x4.) (T also did all of the multiplication in his head, and bead bar exchanging immediately, so that what remained was only a single bead bar in each category box.) After this we work the hundreds boxes and then the thousands boxes and so on. Afterward, we slide all of the bead bars down on the diagonal, making sure to keep them organized by category, and then count them up to find our final product.
Here is is final answer. This is exercise one for Category Multiplication. (This lesson comes after geometric multiplication.) The next iteration will require T to hold all the carries in his head, and then we will move to paper and pencil.
This is a bit of S's crazy cursive. We were doing dictation here, focusing on plural nouns that require "es." I think nouns that end in "x, ch, sh, z, and s" get an "es" at the end. I always lay out, cut, and laminate word lists each week for dictation. This way at the end of the session I can give the list to T and S and they can check their work if they wish.
And this is the binomal cube. T is helping, or hindering as is sometimes the case, D to construct the binomal cube outside the box. This work gets a lot of construction crane animation. Since D has already constructed the cube outside the box in layers, the last work with this material is to build the cube without the use of sight inside the box.

And that was one LONG post. Whew! Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. So many things are funny in this post :)

    I clicked over to see which post you were referring to with flattening the globe. I had completely forgotten about that day. I wonder if that's the first time I threatened to quit? There have been many since.

    I did the same thing you did with the kitchen items so that the cards would actually reflect what was in our kitchen.

    I can't BELIEVE you found yet another use for that torch. I haven't posted yet, but I was also unable to do the first air experiment with the funnel and bottle successfully either.

    I think it is funny that you your mind and mine division with the bows is "ninja division" and that "ninja division" is becoming an actual "thing." Hysterical. I alter the sequence here too. I like to do ninja division right before I do collective division for any reason. So, I don't do it after the collective exercises either. For Me Too I am saving it. I do the collective exercises with the golden beads, then all of the stamp game EXCEPT group division. I leave that out Then, before I do racks and tubes I pull the golden beads back out and do ninja division. Then we do racks and tubes. Then we will do group division with the stamp game. We will probably review ninja division again for a day before doing the group division with the stamp game. It's just that having been through it once, I don't see any point in showing the ninja division before the stamp game when they won't be dividing in that way with the stamp game until later. I like to sync it up with when they will do it with the other materials. It probably sows seeds or something. Anyway, as she often is, Jessica was right about wanting to get to the racks and tubes as soon as possible in elementary. Kal-El was VERY tolerant of doing many many primary works during early elementary that he wasn't supposed to like anymore. However, it meant he was worn out by the time we got to racks and tubes. That child is SO OVER moving small beads. Fortunately he's good at long division and hasn't had to do many equations with the boards.

    We never laid out our cards for the collective exercises. We had wooden ones and flipped through the box. I don't think I could stand it. It is just killing us having to lay them out for the bank game. I've seen some homeschoolers buy just the right pocket chart for laying out the cards permanently. I can see the appeal.

    Category multiplication on the checkerboard gives me a headache.

    The nice thing about me making my kids do umpteen equations on everything before moving on is that T is going get ahead of us on map and then I see you do everything first. Bwahahaha...

    LOVE reading about what you are doing. Except the category multiplication. I'm going to go take some ibuprofen.

    1. I think I just happened to be reading that particular post about the orange map just before I was preparing to do this lesson. I am reading archives up to about when Me Too was D's age. :) It is so cool to see what you did with your boys at the same age as D is now. And wow do our techniques and days look different!

      D was getting confused with the kitchen item cards which were different from the items that are in our kitchen. The blender in the purchased packet looks nothing like ours. And there was no bapsut (rice maker) in the set and we use this every day.

      Of course, that torch was probably one of THE best, I am not sure if this is a good idea purchases. Your husband may end up wanting one. I'll make you creme brulee and you can see how useful this torch really is.

      Now that I read that part of the post, I guess it does sound like ninja division just division. I guess I am changing it back to bows for a tiny bit before D needs the ninjas again. :)

      So you did the collective sequence through regular division (like the division in this post) and then after stamp game multiplication did division with ninjas (see it is catching on) and then racks and tubes and then circled back to stamp game division? I still haven't fully processed the difference between group and distributive division. I figure I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Now that I think about it, I don't know what T ever did division with the stamp game. I figured that since he did stamp game in primary he did all of it. Maybe not.

      I totally get when you say, doesn't like fiddly beads any more. T is like that too. S is totally not. This means that we need to get her though all the fiddly bead exercises!

      I had thought about not laying out the small number cards for the division, but S and I are still working almost daily on naming quantities, so I thought handling these more and seeing the complete lay out could be beneficial review for her.

      You are funny with the category multiplication. I only think that the albums outline a 3 digit multiplied by a 3 digit. I'll see how keen T's short term memory really is. I already know mine is TERRIBLE.

      If we have to do things first, how am I going to be able to ask you silly email questions about how to do X lesson that I could have found the answer to in the albums?;) Oh, you want to turn the tables do you? :)

      Now, back to making primary materials. You are so lucky you don't have to go...all...the...way...back.

  2. You mentioned you purchased your dressing frames at Montessori Outlet. Do you like them? I have made a few and purchased a few used over the years (I have a 7 and 10 yo that are done with this stage), but I have had trouble with stiff fabric that doesn't stretch for little hands to get the buttons far enough or that causes the snaps to pop back open while the child is still working. I hate to spend more on this material, but I can see how my almost 4 year old is really frustrated with the fabric. I have a 17 month old that will use them eventually, so I think I can justify the purchase if they really are that great.

    1. I understand what you mean about spending money to perhaps acquire items that are better than the items you already have. :)

      This is just my opinion and observation of one child. D was the only one who needed most of these. S has only used the bow-tying frame.
      So: the hook eye frame -- mine is horrible. The fabric is slack too much and the hook eyes just fall out as soon as you lift the frame. There needs to be more tension in the fabric on this one.
      The snap frame is fine. There is no "tightness" in the fabric, and the snaps don't pop out. If you can see in the pictures, there is slack.
      The buckle frame is fine too. The grommets are smooth enough to not be a hindrance. I think that in a classroom with many hands the fabric would soften. The fabric in all of our dressing frames came pretty stiff.
      The button frame is fine. There is enough slack so that you can pull the button hole open and tip the button to get it through. The holes are large enough too. The fabric at first was pretty stiff, but doable. It softened even in the time that D worked with it.
      The zipper frame miraculously has a zipper that is easy to slide together. So many jackets nowadays have terrible zippers where that second metal piece never slides all the way down to the base of the zipper. Our zipper frame, though a little less slack, zips quite easily.

      The tie frame has plenty of slack too, but the ties are a bit stiff, and don't bend backward and stay that way. One way we get around this is to have a small spray bottle with water in it, and we lightly spray the fabric before we tie the ties.

      Hope that this helps. I've liked most of our frames so far, but I don't really have anything to compare them with. :)

  3. I love to see pictures of D working with the same materials my DJ is using. I show them to him so he can see that other kids do this work too. Sometimes mom's word isn't quite enough!

    How strict are you with pencil grip when using the metal insets? DJ has been resistant to me helping him hold the pencil correctly so I've been telling him he can't use the Metal Insets until he does. But I'm afraid I'll kill the excitement for the material for him. He CAN hold the pencil correctly, although it still feels awkward to him but he tends to hold it too far up the pencil. As soon as I correct that one part though he goes all defiant and switches back to a fist hold. Argh! It's that old "when to correct and when not to correct" dilemma.

    1. With the metal insets I am not that strict, not because I feel you shouldn't be with this material, but because I haven't had to be. D naturally uses the three point pencil grip correctly with his left hand only. I think that holding low close to the tip is a function of small hands and a very long pencil. Once his hands grow, or I cut down his pencils, he will hold the pencil in the right place. I am just fine with the fact that he uses proper grip.

      Now, for the non-text book answer with my other children: Both T and S use improper pencil grips. Both can manage to write just fine in cursive. Both somehow don't tire from writing incorrectly either. T is righty, and places his middle finger AND index on the top of the pencil. He also uses too much pressure to keep the pencil steady, but his paper to pencil pressure is fine. I never got the opportunity to show him how to use a pencil. He was never interested in anything writing related at home, he went to traditional preschool, and then went to primary Montessori school when I imagine it was very late to try to get him to change grip.

      S is a lefty and she uses a thumb-wrap, a horrible thumb wrap to stabilize her pencil. She was a low-toned baby and has had a variety of issues that precipitated because of this, both neurological and physical. I think developing hand-strength was a difficult task. S had been using a pencil in both hands, in a variety of incorrect ways, since she was 18 months old. I just never thought to correct her grip using BOTH hands. (She chose a hand I believe after her 4th birthday.) I thought that I'd correct whatever was incorrect after she chose a hand. In retrospect, I think this was too late. We worked hard on pencil grip last year, at home but she still preferred her thumb-wrap. Later, I stopped trying to change her pencil grasp because although she did have a more limited range of motion, she could write and draw for hours without tiring. Literally hours. Her accuracy isn't as precise, but she is gaining and I suspect her skill will continue to enhance over time.

      As for your son, if you still are inclined, and have time to change his pencil grip, I'd strongly encourage you to do so. I hand write a lot. I wouldn't be able to write as much as I do if I tired quickly. Typing has come into fashion, but I still hand write to process. To write it down helps me to remember it. Maria Montessori herself said, that it is through the hand we learn and remember.

      Go back to anything with a knob. Cylinders, puzzles, geometric cabinet, leaf cabinet, sorting grains, open closed activity, sowing seeds, placing chocolate chips, sticking small stickers, dressing frames, pin punching, folding dishtowels or napkins, stringing beads, okay, you get the idea, and do a lot of three point, pincer grasp practicing. Tons. HUGE amounts. Have fun with it. Do which one is missing, which on is larger, which one is pointing east...which one is first, last, least, most, whatever. Just pick them up by the knob a lot. Do this, (there is even a song) but with other things...sticks, spoons, forks, pick-up sticks, whatever. Make holding things that are long and skinny in a tripod pincer grasp natural.

      If he'd like to continue with metal insets, let him. I feel that verbally or physically correcting his pencil grip while he is gripping a pencil should be a last resort. We do show the child how to hold a pencil in a lesson, but perhaps we shouldn't interrupt in the context of being right in the middle of, or about to start, an independent metal inset activity. If we work hard to encourage the child to develop that tripod pincer grasp, (which I talk about here, --remember a rounded claw hand, not a flat hand) I think that this is the best we can do.

    2. Also, in my past post about the Montessori reading seminar I linked to above, I mentioned that the Montessori representative giving the presentation said that the child should already have proper pencil grip before using the metal insets and that this material does not teach proper pencil grip. -- so let him dabble, but work on the pincer grasp elsewhere...A LOT.

      So, good luck to you, let us know how it goes.

    3. Wow! Thank you. Thank was very helpful.

  4. Oh my goodness! Lots of good work here! Love all the cards. Need to make more....ugh!! But need to go to bed first :).

  5. Oh and meant to say that Cat uses all her stuffed animals too for the golden bead operations as I'm sure everybody does! Oh and the flat blue ball thing is awesome! Maybe I'll do that with Swiper.I also want to show the kids the embroidery work. I've had that stuff for a few years now and somehow never managed to bring it out! Again, feel like I'm playing catchup constantly!

  6. Catch up that should be my middle name.

  7. OMG!!! Amazing, I just LOVE LOVE LOVE your week and your learning time!!! They did Amazing!!! Thanks for share it!!