And what am I doing right now? I am trying to flow from one thing to another. I am trying to flow between elementary and primary; making materials, reading theory about different planes of development, and trying to not leave any one out while keeping my head on straight. I feel like I am trying to hold several greasy watermelons at once while trying to not drop anything. I also feel that God put me in this situation to shake me up a bit. It is working. I am looking at piles of card materials waiting to be sorted and laminated, sound cards that need coloring, and a catalog of stereo microscopes, one of which needs ordering. At least I am glad I can cross "boys' haircuts" off my to-do list.
This first part of our week took off a little slow. Maybe it was my momentum, or the fact that we had such a packed week last week and we were still a little mentally tired. The kids are still getting in deeper than before and I see more cheerful repeat work. So while the number of works has diminished a bit, the level of quality has held steady.
This is the last exercise in the cylinder block sequence. Here D is removing the cylinders and replacing them without the use of sight.
D has worked with one and then many cylinder blocks simultaneously, removing the cylinders and replacing them. Then he did the distance matching where we removed all the cylinders from the block, placed the block in a remote location, marked which hole we wanted to match and then went to fetch the correct cylinder. You are supposed to perform this lesson both open-ended, when the correct cylinder is returned to the rug and closed-ended, when the correct cylinder is left in the block. D only wanted to do the close-ended version. We also did distance matching when we removed the cylinders and scattered them in the classroom environment and then played the closed-ended game, choosing cylinders of a certain size from the environment to fit in the hole we selected. Finally, we also did distance grading when we removed all the cylinders, placed the block in a remote location, returned to organize all of the cylinders in a graded fashion and then fetched the block to replace the cylinders in their holes in order. D did this last exercise with one and then more cylinder blocks simultaneously. Goodness, that was a lot of cylinder lessons. We started this sequence when he was 2 yrs and 3 mos. He is now 3yrs and about 8mos. (We also had a huge break in the middle of this sequence to move half way across the country.)
I think the biggest take away from this sequence for me, was that there are times that the child doesn't need a lot of repeat work. D basically ignored the cylinder blocks this year (since last October) and only worked with them when I was working with him. During our lessons he didn't always return with the correct sized cylinder, but he always could correct his mistake, immediately. I interpreted the fact that he could do the work during our lesson and his lack of independent follow-up work to mean that he didn't find this work enthralling any more. He could do it. He knew it. He needed a bigger challenge.
I am always thinking that the child SHOULD be doing follow-up work for every lesson. How else is the guide going to be able to focus on someone/anything else? But I can see here, at times, the child will want to do work independently and sometimes they will not. Which means I need to keep presenting.
D doesn't always like the owl mask and prefers sometimes to just squinch his eyes closed.
Oh, the other tid-bit I am sure affects all of this, but am not sure how to deal with, is the fact that D is our only primary student. He doesn't see anyone else doing primary works near his level. S is doing some primary works but they are mostly at the other end of the spectrum. There is no other child "inspiring" his exploration. He loves working with hyung and noona, but he isn't going to be able to do their works "next." T and S enjoy working with D, but sometimes D feels the real "teacher" is only Mama and will refuse to do lessons with T and S. I know some homeschooling moms have the time to sit down and do primary works so the child can "see" what the next level is like. I haven't found the time to do this. Perhaps in a bit things will streamline and clear a bit and I will have time to do some of my own primary works. But until then I am open to other suggestions about how to encourage more independent exploration.
Here we have two piles of geometric solids. The group of solids on the left roll. The group on the right slides.
Not sure you'll find this lesson in any album, but D found this work pretty fun. We also worked on nomenclature, mostly sticking to the 2nd period. I'd ask, "can you give me the cube? Can you give me the sphere? Here, I am going to give you the square-based pyramid." D did very well with this stage.
Oh, if you are looking for a very pretty, natural material, fits-just-right, but VERY expensive way to hold your work rugs (if you have only a small number of them) use an umbrella holder. These things are super expensive. But, they are perfectly sized and they are the perfect height (we have medium and large rugs from Montessori Services) and they have a weighted bottom so the entire thing doesn't tip over every time someone short pulls a rug out of the holder. I think we got our bamboo umbrella holder from the Container Store.
S did a little bells grading. Well actually, she did a little bit of bells matching really. Here she is mixing up the brown bells and then by listening to its tone, she was supposed to put the bells back in order from middle c to c. Instead of comparing the brown bells to the other brown bells, she compared the out-of-order brown bell with the in-order-white bell and then found the correct location for that brown bell. She said the grading work was "hard." I said good. She said she found another way to do it that was easier. Humn. How do I get around that and get her to actually grade the bells? (Note: the bells matching lesson comes right before this lesson.)
This week S worked very hard on compound words. You can read about her introductory lesson here. This lesson is from the KotU Elementary Language album.
This is our compound word chart (also from the KotU.) She is using two printed alphabets (these huge ones from Alison's Montessori) in different colors to create the compound words she selects from the chart. The chart was located behind her. Ideally it should be across the room, but S doesn't like getting up and down so much. She is still using her short term memory to spell the words because, at least, the chart isn't in front of her work space.
Here she is, for the most part, spelling the first root word in one color and the second root word in another color. She really enjoyed this work.
After writing the words with the printed alphabet, she will write the words using colored pencils, using a different color for each of the root words.
Before using the printed alphabet, she re-created the small object compound words we did last week.
Then she decided to draw a few of the compound words...
...and then she decided to create a few compound words of her own.
I know you aren't supposed to compare children, but I do. All the time. It is interesting to me to see how their personalities affect their development and how their development affects their personal likes and dislikes. S started talking around 13 months. By the time she was 18 months old she could say, "at halaboji house." (Halaboji is the Korean word for grandfather.) But, she couldn't walk. She didn't walk until she was 19 months old. I thought I was going to have to carry her to her college graduation. S loves words. She loves talking. She loves wordy expression. She loves changing words, making new words, and exploring double meanings. T doesn't. He walked at 11 months but he didn't really start talking until after he was 2. At 2, he only used 5 words consistently. Now he likes to talk, but creative writing, spelling, and tricky language aren't areas he really loves like S.What T loves is math. We just whizzed through decimal fraction addition and subtraction and dynamic subtraction and abstract addition and subtraction today. Now we go on to decimal fraction multiplication and division and converting common fractions to decimals.
There are a number of additional lessons in this sequence so I think think that T will pause somewhere soon. The album suggests that all of the lessons in this sequence be introduced by the end of the third year and loose ends be tied up by year 5. I guess T is "whizzing along" right on target.
D likes to be T's "banker" and his doggie, Chase, likes to help out, or in this case be a complete distraction. T will put together his addends, or minuend and subtrahend number cards, and then he'll ask D for the cube quantities. D loves counting these out for hyung-a. If he perchance makes an error counting, T just helps him out. D is pretty good at counting out the cubes though and doesn't usually make mistakes.
Since D and I haven't gotten this far in his number-sequence, I am not sure what this means for the number rods, the number cards, and the spindle work. We've started the number rod lessons, but he hasn't gotten very far. He counts each alternating color, but sometimes gets mixed up counting. He doesn't have a very good number sense yet and can't give me the 5-rod by sight. He needs to count everything. Sometimes we count up to 11. Sometimes the 7 rod is the 9 rod. This is why I hesitate to move forward, but he loves the symbols so much I am afraid that he feels the number rods are "boring." I am pretty sure he'd love the spindles at this point BUT I don't want him to miss any important sensorial number rod experiences. Any advice here? (Sorry Ammy and Gramps, I haven't posted our number rods work yet, and the number cards and spindles are the works that come after that. I am just not sure where D should be since the albums suggest he is too young to begin the number sequence.)
So, from last week, we left off trying to figure out which quantity was bigger: 6.78935 or 6.78. We figured out that the quantities to the left are larger than the quantities to the right, like tenths are larger than hundreths. Here we can see that each quantity has 6.78 in common. The first quantity also has 0.00935 more than the other quantity, and therefore is larger.
T then started adding decimal quantities, first using two addends that didn't require any carrying and then using two or more addends that required exchanging. (Like if you end up with 11 hundreths, that would exchange out to be 1 tenth and 1 hundreth.) At first, T was confused about how to carry. He finally figured out after examining the circle fraction materials that 10/10 = 1 whole and said, "oh, when you give me ten 10ths, I give you 1 whole unit." And from there, he knew to exchange left, just like in the stamp game. He kept telling me, "this is just like the stamp game Mommy."
T also started notating horizontally today. Then I created a vertical problem which he figured out how to answer without a lesson. First he solved the problem by finding the sum on paper and then showed me how to find the sum with the cubes.
Then we moved on to subtraction which he figured out in all of 30 minutes, both on paper and with the decimal fraction board.
We created our first minuend say, 0.48774 on the board with the colored cubes. Then we took away the subtrahend, say 0.23163, in cubes. If there weren't enough in category, we'd borrow from the category to the left, exchanging say, 1 hundreth cube for 10 thousandth cubes. Then T wrote down his difference.
Tomorrow we move on to multiplication and division.
To change gears slightly, (and then I'll get back on track, I promise) we went outside Sunday to garden. We went outside Sunday because it was nice and in the 60's. The other reason we went outside was because I had my husband get some peat moss to replace some of our garden soil and I didn't want to leave it sitting in the garage next to the vermiculite. Last fall a cat decided to use my newly planted garden beds as his litter box. EWWWWW. REALLY? So, we erected this awful eye-sore of a net/cage out of PVC piping, deer netting and zip-ties and so far this has kept that darn cat out. BUT what the cat puts out isn't fertilizing. It is toxic. So, I needed to dig out the expensive gardening mix I'd put down last fall, 9 cubic feet of it, and replace it with new mix. (We mix 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 compost.) So, that is what the kids were helping with, WHEN, we found a dead, dried up, hornet in the netting. S was VERY excited and we ran inside to get a small plastic box and a tongs/tweezers. She picked it out of the netting with the tongs and we sealed it up in the box and brought it up to the classroom. Incidentally, the boys were completely grossed out by and scared of S's find. (THIS was when I really wanted a stereo microscope so we could just plop this thing down under the lens and look at it.)
(A side note: the small shovel is from Home Depot and the small rake is from Montessori Services. The gardening gloves, all three of them, are from Walmart I think.) S needs to be pink, fuzzy and fashionable when gardening. REALLY?
So this is what S decided to do in the classroom with her new specimen. She traced this figure using our Montessori R&D arthropod nomenclature cards (this set has since been re-designed.) She thought looking at the specimen was really fun and so was tracing the card form. But she didn't want to label its parts. T later said something like, "can I see the bee?" S replied, "its an ARTHROPOD!!"
Another thought here, I wasn't sure how to store the hornet. I feel that there is a high likelihood that the legs could fall off if it gets bounced around inside the box too much. With three children in our classroom, I guess the chances are less than in a classroom of 30. But, I hesitate to put it on a bed of cotton (partly because I don't want to touch it) and obscure one whole side view. Any other mounting ideas dear entomologist friends of mine? This guy is stiff an cannot be re-arranged.
S is reading, reading, reading. These are primary phonics storybooks from set 4? I think. S and T both had these readers in their primary classrooms at their Montessori school.
I am in deep, working on card materials for D's primary language sequence. I've been scouring the KotW message boards and My Boy's Teacher's blog for insight and advice on where to get what, how to modify what, and what I just feel I need to crazy-create myself. Somehow when I got into all this Montessori stuff, I also felt very excited about making materials. Now that I am in waist-deep I really don't feel the urge to make anything any more. I am just feeling more frustrated that the Montessori materials suppliers aren't making what is described in the albums. This makes my perfectionist personality begrudgingly feel compelled to create said materials.
Anyway, this is a "carnivore, herbivore, omnivore" card set I put together a LONG time ago. (I think it was from the Helpful Garden.) Here S is helping D figure out who eats what. In the shot above, I think S is doing some researching about what porcupines eat using the 5-types of vertebrate sorting card set. (These other cards are called the Learning Resource Classifying Cards Bundle. Now that I look at these, I don't know that I paid $30+ for this set. I think I remember thinking they were somewhat expensive, but then having these cards in hand I felt they were worth the money. This set covers oceans, deserts, tropical forests, and grasslands. There are plenty of mammals, and enough reptiles, birds, and fish. Although the set is a little lacking in the amphibian department (there are 3 cards), there is a good smattering of invertebrates. The cards all have a green border so it is easy to mix and match sets. The back of the card is color coded so it is easy to put the sets back together. There is basic info on the back side and these cards fit PERFECTLY into one of those 5x7 plastic photo boxes. There were enough cards to make a vertebrate/invertebrate sort AND a 5-classes of vertebrate sort with cards left over to swap out later.)
Okay, back to the carnivore/herbivore cards. While working with S on this lesson D kept interrupting me saying things like, "mommy, there is no cheese card. Mouses eat cheese." We discussed that this might be considered an animal product and therefore the mouse might be considered a carnivore. And darn, now I forget the other comments he made to me. Someone else ate something else and there wasn't a card for it...and I thought it was cute...I'll remember...never.
This is again, the binomial cube. At the primary level this is a sensorial material with an indirect aim to prepare the child for later algebra and cube root work. There are 8 prisms in this set which fit into box with a lid. Together, this material represents the equation (a+b)^3. The prerequisites for this work are the early sensorial works, like the pink tower, the brown stair, the knobbed cylinders, and the color tabs.
In the very first lesson we did, D deconstructed and reconstructed the cube inside the box. Now we are building the cube outside the box and splitting the layers so we can see the pattern on the box top on all sides of the cube. Next we will build one layer next to the other layer, and finally, we will build the cube in the box without the use of sight.
D likes "saying" the same phrases we used in the lesson. I say things like, "red to red" and "black to black" because like colored faces touch. Now when he puts the cube together he repeats the same phrases.
D said that the cube looked "funny" this way. The box being able to close is the control-of-error here. If the child hasn't constructed the cube correctly the box will not close and the top will not fit on. D knows this and fixed his "funny" cubes immediately.
Then he pulled out the trinomial cube and constructed this outside the box. He said to me, "this cube is like the other cube but this cube has yellow blocks mommy."
And after he got Noona to put the prisms back in the box he took a breather. (He can successfully replace the trinomial cube prisms back in the box by himself. I think he was just a bit burnt out.)
And finally, the boy who hates creative writing and is not good at giving narratives is writing a 20 page scroll that summarizes the entire Lego Movie story. (Or at least that is what I THINK he is doing.) He asks me frequently how to spell things. Sometimes I tell him the actual letters, because we haven't gone over that exception, and other times I'll just segment the sounds for him. I think he has written in cursive throughout.
A note about this work. He is VERY into this work. I feel it is a solid work because he is practicing his penmanship, spelling, and writing skills. He likes it because it is something he thought up and it has to do with Legos. The first couple of days he worked on this, he worked on it for hours. HOURS. At the exclusion of other works. I, as his guide and mother, worried, but I didn't say a whole lot about it. This week as he wrote down this work on his Work Plan, I stated that this was a good work to be doing and to also remember that there are other exciting works he may want to choose if he wants to advance to the next lesson in those areas. This week, he has chosen to work on this writing project and he ALSO has chosen other works. And he enjoys doing both. I have a very hard time trusting the child will choose what I think is worthy work. I have a hard time not judging what is a "worthy" and a "not worthy" work. Here, I am satisfied to be proven wrong and find that T is capable of moderating his work choices and enjoys choosing a good variety of work.
And that is the first part of our week. We'll check back in later in the week! Cheers.