Saturday, February 14, 2015

Older Brothers

Week 7 Part 2, February 9, 2015

I am eldest. My husband is also eldest. We don't know what it is like to have an older sibling. Sometimes I wonder what D and S feel about T and just what they think about his comfort and the guidance he gives them. (I suspect that they don't "think" much of anything about this, and just take it all as a given. T and S were very sad to find out that they will not be able to marry each other and live together forever.)

Thursday evening, all of the kiddos were putting together new Lego sets. About every three minutes, S yelled out, "T!!!!! (She uses his real name of course.) I lost something!!" T went running over to S to help her find her that lost piece and then the right place in her direction booklet again. After he would happily hop back over to his own Lego project once she was set. I mentioned to T that S probably really really appreciates his "help" and it probably makes her feel good. S heard me and piped up saying, "I like that you help me T! It makes me feel happy! Thank you!" (D had dibs on all of Daddy's attention and was following his assembly instructions verbatim. He only got mad when Daddy tried to put a piece in place. He would say, "I do it!")

Then there are the times when D commands T to carry him around piggy-back. D is 34lbs. T is 62lbs. D loves anything physical and has a great time wrestling with T. T is the dutiful older sibling and carries his little brother around making him laugh all the while.

This IS T. He is giving and caring. S likes to be independent but also likes the back-up her "oppa" provides. And D looks up to T and S so much in every way. He spends 99% of his day trying to keep up with all they do. And he does a pretty good job. Observing these three grow together and each in their own way, is really, well, awesome.
So on to more about the relationship between T and D, and a little bit about the sandpaper numerals. I mentioned a few posts back that D was interested in numbers. He isn't interested in number rods, but he is interested in the sandpaper numerals. So for now, we are waiting on examining quantity more closely and just going for symbol recognition. 

Here D is working with T and in the shot above he is trying to find a particular number symbol. T did a modified 3 period lesson with D and quickly learned that D knows most all of the number symbols. So then the boys did a "fetch-me" game. T would say, "please get 5." D would giggle and bring 3 AND 5. T would say, "THAT is 3!!!" and then both boys would collapse into a heap of laughter. This was funny but very distracting to S.
The only number symbol between 0 and 9 D doesn't know is 9. I think T was writing number symbols here to show D. D is prying T's fingers off the number symbols so he can see.
 And then something was incredibly funny.
And then there was finishing the work cycle and cleaning up the work. This was how the boys decided to do this.

S found this clean-up method VERY funny.

This was also when the child's freedom to choose got eclipsed. After this fit of ruckus, the guide, strongly suggested that the older boy read to the younger boy and that the younger boy listen to the older boy read. So that is what they did. T read to D the book Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.
S did more bells grading. It talk a tiny bit more about S's progress with this material here.
T did a little bit of what S loves to do. Here he is exploring some of our prepared slides with the microscope and drawing pictures of what he sees in his working notebook.
We received a few really cool things from a friend to add to our farm environment. Here D added the pumpkins, a scarecrow and the hay bails to our set up. He likes to stack the hay bails neatly in the loft of the barn. (How he knows that the hay belongs in the barn loft is beyond me. I don't think that he's ever seen this.) Then he walks around and around the set up for a few minutes to find the perfect place place for the pond. (I didn't tell him the blue felt was a pond. He just knew.)
That green thing in the pond is actually a pencil grip which doesn't have anything to do with the farm environment. 

Typically the farm environment is used for primary grammar lessons which come after writing and reading. These lessons come at the end of the primary language sequence and not all children get to them before moving on to elementary. The farm environment isn't noted in elementary grammar lessons. 

Primary children would label the environment to explore naming words or nouns. Children could describe different farm inhabitants, using adjectives, or create action among farm objects with verbs. 

At D's level, we explore the farm to develop vocabulary and grammar usage on a purely aural level. I'd say things, like, "which animal is this one? What does this animal eat? Would this animal jump or sit? Can we put the animal under the pond, in the pond or next to the pond." If we get to grammar lessons at the other end of his primary language sequence, then we'll do the traditional farm lessons. If we don't get to the farm before he gets to that second plane of development/elementary stage, then we will just begin with elementary grammar. (I ordered this farm from Montessori N' Such here. A few animals came with the set, but we also have Toobs animals as well.) I'll note here that D does have past farm experience. We've visited farms and viewed animals doing a number of things. We have not seen hay lofts getting loaded up though.

I don't know if typical primary classrooms would entertain lessons like these since the farm is really saved for advanced readers and early grammar lessons. I am guessing the younger ones probably wouldn't be using the same material as the much older children. In our classroom, T is way past the farm and S is on to elementary grammar lessons and thus past the farm too. So in our class, this material is really D's.
Speaking of grammar, S is on to some of the later noun grammar boxes. This is the third noun box. (I coded mine 2-3A-D; 2 for noun, 3 for box 3 and A-D because there are four card packets in this box. Our boxes are from here.) (These cards are the traditional color cards originally from Montessori Print Shop and I purchased them in this black-background, white-text format. I subsequently reformatted the entire rest of the set as you can see here. Now, MPS sells the format I worked for 7 million hours to create.)
She flew through the first two card packets in the box. These card packets explore singular and plural nouns. She immediately went to work categorizing the nouns into a singular group and a matching plural group. Then we looked for patterns and found that for some nouns we add an "s" to make it plural and for other nouns we add an "es" to make it plural. (I wrote more about this lesson in this post when I presented this work to T.)
This is how grammar lessons make S feel. 

After this box, there is another singular/plural noun box and then we move on to noun classification; gender classification and abstract and concrete nouns.
T decided to work more with the checkerboard. (I wrote more about this lesson here.) 

The second I stop worrying about repeat work and just move on when the child ignores all follow-up and repeat work, my children start doing follow-up and repeat work. Humn. I've also read about the differences between traditional Montessori classrooms and homeschool classrooms and that the homeschool environment can dissuade repeat work, but that is an entirely different topic. I've stopped worrying so much about this and now I've started worrying about the primary language sequence, and all the card materials I need to make, and D isn't getting yet, and how he is getting older, and time is passing, get the idea.
S is still happily working on the addition finger charts. She filled up an entire new column of problems the other day. I wrote more about this work here.
Because our class size is so small, and there is such a large gap between D and the next older student, there are times when I just let D pretend a bit. He hasn't yet gotten any lessons with the constructive triangles, but in this shot he is "cement-gluing" the walls of the box to the box top. Here he is applying the "glue" with his left hand. 

You can read about S's elementary geometry lesson using these constructive triangles here. I think S's work inspired D to take this off the shelves and give it a go. I think I said something like, "black touches black" and he was able to put everything back together correctly.

This work is presented first as a sensorial work at the primary level after the child has gained experience with the early sensorial materials (pink tower, knobbed cylinders, brown stairs, etc.) and the geometric cabinet with language included. At the primary level this particular triangle box is introduced after the two rectangle boxes are introduced.
This is the first of three "games" we do with the squared and cubed bead materials. These games are part of the first squares and cubes of numbers section of the elementary math album. Here we took one of each square (1^2 through 10^2) and built a square-based pyramid. Then we used math to calculate the value of the pyramid, or the number of beads contained within the pyramid. 
This value game comes after the child has learned how to name and label squares and cubes. I posted about this here.
Then using the bead cabinet cubes, we created a tower exactly like this tower D made about a year ago. Then T found the value of the tower, or how many beads were contained within the tower. (Here he used the value tickets he had used to label the cubes in a previous lesson to tell him the value of each cube.)

There are two more games in this sequence that explore the differences between cubes and squares and then we move on to the decanomial square. (You can see T laying out the bead decanomial here, and S laying out the paper decanomial here, or I guess in this case the plastic decanomial. I've also seen this material called the square of Pythagoras.)
I think that this is the third time I've tried to introduce the globes to D. And each time I've been met with a lot of disinterest. It is just NOT interesting to him. Okay, scratch that. He is interested up until the point I tell him where our state is located and then he could have nothing less to do with these globes. Okay, we'll move on.
He was posing for the shot each time if you couldn't tell already. At the primary level, the children are first introduced to the sandpaper globe, in the top shot, first. The rough sandpaper represents land and the smooth blue part represents water. The child will sensitize the fingers, as they would for any sandpaper activity, and then trace the outline of the land masses without the use of sight. We also introduce the language "land" and "water." 

Then we introduce the second globe you see in the shot above which is painted different colors. Each continent is painted a different color and the water remains blue. 

In Montessori school, T and S learned the color of each continent better than the name of each continent. If we are talking about Ecuador, T and S will say, "oh, that is from the pink continent," instead of saying "South America." I wonder if D will end up doing the same.

These geography lessons are tucked away at the back of the sensorial primary album. There is also different geography work scattered throughout the primary language album, which of course focus on language.
D was back at the binomial cube. (I wrote more about this work here.) In these highly-overexposed-wasn't-even-going-to-post-'em shots D is constructing the cube outside the box and then splitting the layers to examine the pattern on each "side" of the cube. Afterward he constructed the layers side-by-side. 

Constructing these formations comes after constructing the cube inside the box and before building the cube inside the box without the use of sight. This work is indirect preparation for later algebra and finding cube roots.

We've swiftly, or not really swiftly at all, moved on to stamp game multiplication. (I think our last stamp game post was here!) I had a wonderful conversation here in the comments about remedial math for a 7 year old who hasn't completed all of the primary lessons but has completed the first plane of development. (Thank you for this advice!! You know who you are.) So at this stage, I am focusing on introducing S to the remaining stamp game lessons and reviewing naming and creating physical quantities in an effort to get to the math lessons that are more geared for elementary children. Where S feels like she would like to pause and do repeat work we will do just that.

In the problem above, S created the multiplication problem 1,123 * 3. You can see that we created 1,123 out of stamps three times. We smooshed these quantities together and added them all up to find our final product. This first problem didn't require any dynamic carrying.
This second problem required carrying and exchanging. If it is unclear (because S ran out of space) the original problem was 2,342*4. After we created 2,342 four times, we started counting up all the units first. There were 8 units. Then we started counting the tens and stopped once we reached 10. Ten tens is one hundred, so we plopped the ten tens in the stamp box and pulled out one red hundred tile and placed on the table. We were able to count up 6 tens more and we noted this down on in the tens column on our paper. Then we did the same counting and exchanging for the 100s and the 1,000s, and arrived at our final product answer.

While we were working with the stamp game S kept saying 40 interchangeably with 40-tens. I kept saying that those two quantities aren't the same. In the shot above, we used the golden beads and counted out 40 units, or 4 tens, or 40 golden beads, and this is what S is pointing at. Then we counted out 40 tens, or 40 ten bars, and that is the mass quantity you see at the bottom of the shot. She then understood that 40 means 4 tens, or 40 beads, or 40 units, and that 40 tens is an entirely different quantity.
S said, "wow, 40 tens is a lot Mama."
D got to do a first sound cylinder lesson this week. This lesson is from the auditory section of the sensorial primary album. (There is no sensorial elementary album, so from now on I'll omit the primary album part. The Sensorial album lessons are generally organized by the sense that they aim to exercise. The different categories are: visual, tactile, baric, thermic, gustatory, olfactory, auditory, and stereognostic. And then there is another section in this album called sensorial aspects of the world.) 
This was just the angle from which I got to shoot this photo series. I note this because everything is pictured all backward. Anyway, there are two boxes of sound cylinders. One box has a red top and contains six red topped wooden cylinders filled with various items that when shaken make noise. And the other box has a blue top that contains six blue topped wooden cylinders filled with the same various items that make the same noises. These cylinders can be matched, the blue set to the red set, or graded, using the red or blue cylinder sets alone. The prerequisites for this work are the touch tablets and the early sensorial works. (As an interesting side note, I thought I had showed D where this work lived on the shelves but evidently forgot this step. The next day he wanted to repeat this work and after going to the shelves and retrieving one red topped box and one blue topped box, he found that he had snagged the knobbless cylinders instead of the sound cylinders. I'll remember in the future to let him know where the work lives on the shelves!)

In this first sound cylinders lesson, the guide will remove the top of the red box, remove all six cylinders, and place them in a column on the table rug to the left of center. The guide will have already prearranged the cylinders in the box such that when set out on the table for a first lesson the loudest cylinder will be first, the softest cylinder will be second, and then the other cylinders will follow. 

After replacing the red top on the box, the guide will lift the first cylinder closest to the body with finger tips only and using a light touch, bring the cylinder to the ear and shake the cylinder vertically moving the wrist up and down with the elbow pointing outward. The guide will replace the red cylinder on the table and then lightly grasp the cylinder with the other hand, lift the cylinder, and shake it to listen with the other ear before returning it to the table once again. The guide will then invite the child to repeat this movement and listen to each red cylinder in turn.

Afterward, the guide will take the top off the blue box and remove the blue cylinders placing them on the table in a column parallel to the red cylinders but to the right of center. The guide can say, "these ones sound the same even though they are a different color. Let's try to find which cylinders sound the same." 

After replacing the blue top, the guide will again lift the first red cylinder with his/her dominant hand, shake it, and listen to its sound carefully. The guide will place this red cylinder to the front and center of the table mat. Then he/she will lift, shake, and listen to the first blue cylinder, closest to the body, to see if its sound matches the sound of the red cylinder. If their sounds match the pair is placed to the upper-left-most corner of the mat as a pair. If the blue cylinder sound is not a match, the child will place the blue cylinder only to the bottom right of the mat and proceed to lift, shake, and listen to the next blue cylinder in the waiting column. 

After a match is found for the first red cylinder, the child will replace the blue "non-matching" cylinders back in their column and repeat the process with the next red cylinder until all the cylinders have been paired.

In all the primary lesson presentation videos I've ever seen the child's vision stance is usually above the guide's presentation, such that the child is looking down on the material. We did this presentation at our elementary-sized table and D was sitting next to me. Because he is a short guy, he could see the cylinder bottoms as I brought each one to my ear to listen. He figured out that they are number coded on the bottom. This became a distraction, especially because of his new love of number symbols. I am thinking that I should put white stickers over the bottoms of the containers so that these numbers aren't a distraction. I will also make a note-to-self to try to present lessons having D view the presentation only from above. 
He paired each cylinder successfully and was pretty proud, as you can see. There are a large number of follow-up memory games for this material, which I'll go into later. But for now, I'll just say that the next lesson after this matching exercise is grading; ordering a single cylinder set from loudest to softest (or in reverse.)
This was S's face when she wanted to use the sound cylinders.
This is S's face using the sound cylinders. She didn't need a lesson, partly because she had already received a lesson while in Montessori school and partly because she had just observed D's lesson so she knew what to do.
Oh those numbers on the bottom of the cylinders!!

Another apology is in order for the wonky pictures this second half of the week. The entire month of January my pictures were dark because it was always cloudy outside. This week it has been super sunny out and like 80 degrees. Because of this, and because the windows of our classroom face south, a lot of sun comes into the room during our school time and blows out the exposure of the photos. I do edit all of my shots but sometimes there is only so much I'm able to do in the computer program. I am not complaining about the sunny days, I am just saying I need some sun shades for photography purposes.

Also, sorry for the phantom post. I posted last night and then realized that there were just way-way-way too many typing errors to be even readable. I've now edited, and I am sure that there are more errors I didn't catch, but at least the post is fairly understandable.


  1. It was really liberating to read about no repeat work. Would love that post to elaborate on the subject. It's the same in our classroom and I'm never quite sure if it's because I'm not making it interesting or what, especially all the cultural materials for the young ones.

    However, I also learned this week from my teacher that for the elementary child, you have to make it interesting and constantly tweak it because they're not interested in repeat work. That was also a revelation. Though I don't know how I'm going to have time to make things interesting all the time.

    1. The reason I stopped worrying so much about repeat follow-up work was that the children started doing follow-up repeat work spontaneously. I don't feel qualified enough to write about why a child can, does, or cannot or does not do repeat work. I know that Jessica has written about this topic. Maria Montessori and other Montessori theory authors have written about this topic, and some of the best advice I received was from Sharon Caldwell of the Montessori Foundation. My best advice would be read, read, and read more about Montessori theory.

    2. In my experience as a Montessori assistant, I've found that spontaneous follow-up repeat work tends to be more productive as review and more useful as an assessment tool than any pre-planned activity suggested by the teacher,