Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Learning Changing and Getting Better At It

Week 9, Part 2 February 23, 2015

Or at least I'd like to think that I am getting better at it. I seriously think that all this homeschooling stuff, and the Montessori weight of it all, was dropped in my lap for a precise reason. I'd like to think that the reason was because I was too up-tight. Think a perfectionism leagues past what Martha Stewart would think was excellent. When I first started my product was only dependent upon the number of waking hours in the day. I'd venture to say that the precision was top notch and the volume was heavy. Now the tide has changed a bit and I am trying to find a balance. (That feels so cliche just to type out those words.) The volume is still there (I feel literally cross-eyed from all the card materials) but the precision is a bit less. 

I smile because it will make more sense to those who know...I just gave up the cut, laminate, cut process for the early printed primary card materials. I just laminated an entire sheet of cards and cut the sides flush without a stuck boarder. It felt like it was wrong to save that much time.

I am now in the long process of putting together the cultural folders that are part of the primary language sequence. There are four sets of folders with 5-12 folders in each set. And there are anywhere from 8-20 pictures in a folder. It is A LOT of cards. I wonder if I'll feel anywhere closer to "done" when I come out on the other side. Probably not. This will probably suit me though since I am a perpetual doer.

And now on to the rest of our relaxed week last week.
It all starts with the key lessons and when we plant the seeds of interest. In this case we literally planted seeds. This wonderful book is Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons. It has wonderful illustrations, diagrams and big-kid descriptions with just enough information without being overwhelming. This is the activity in the back of the book. (Now after a long cool weekend, I can report it didn't work though the seeds we stuck in a Ziploc baggie did sprout.)

First, I think our jars were too deep. And then, I think the weather was too cold and dreary for anything to want to sprout. I wouldn't have wanted to sprout either.
All that cutting practice came in handy!!
You stick the seeds in between the glass and the black paper, submerged in the water. We planted lima beans not because I like to eat limas, but because that is what the store had, whenever I got these bean seeds.
The book also contains this wonderful illustration. (I really really like this book if you haven't guessed that yet.)
D recognized the illustration matched up with our flower puzzle from Montessori Outlet. We learned the names of most of the parts of the flower.
Then I pulled this dying flower from a Valentine's day bouquet and it fell apart on its own, no dissection needed.
D picked through the flower pieces and named the ones he knew, including this one.
T started some very serious tornado research. This is the research outline he and I developed this together. I gave A LOT of guidance through this process. My children, when they don't know an answer right off, they just look at you like a teary deer in headlights. So to keep the mood light and fun, and somewhat efficient, I provided a lot of multiple choice questions and he chose which option he preferred.

We discussed what he was interested in generally. We discussed what he wanted to find out about tornadoes more specifically. Then we drew up some parameters to focus his research. T said he wanted to examine all tornadoes in the US during his lifetime, so from 2006-2015. He decided he specifically wanted to look at location, time of day, size, and death toll. Then I was off to start gathering some data for him to organize.

The above isn't the first document we examined. The first document was a partial print out of a 150 page document from The Tornado Project that listed all tornado events from 1950 to the present in all counties in Texas. 150 pages of tornadoes in...just...Texas. He looked through the first three counties and found 15 tornado events between 2006-and 2015. We decided to modify the scope of the project because studying ALL tornadoes in the US during that time frame was going to be just too much data. He settled on looking at only F5 and EF5s. 

The document you see above, (from NOAA? I can't remember now) lists all of the F5 and EF5 tornadoes from 1950 on. He selected around 10 events that occurred after 2006. Then we made a matrix to help him organize the rest of the information he wanted to gather.

We aren't working with a hypothesis here. This is just an exploratory, and very much guided, first research project. T is just getting the fundamentals of how to design a secondary research project, how to think about scope, how to find data, how to access sources, and how to organize and then present information. I figured all this was enough for a first-ever research project.
Okay, this is my way, way, way lame picture of what MBT did here. This is one of the preludes to the winds activities. There are tea light candles in the paper tube and there is a doorway cut into the side of the paper tube. The candles warm the air at the base of the tube and then the warm air rises and creates a vacuum inside the base of the tube. Thus, air moves into the base of the tube through the doorway and then it warms and rises. We can see the air being sucked into the doorway by lighting an incense stick and watching the smoke flow into the doorway and up and out the top of the tube. This activity worked for us, but it isn't very evident here.
S finished addition finger chart 2. (These are her shopkins demonstrating 1+8=9 in the photo above.)

Finished! Next is addition chart 3.
S did some compound word work I created last year. Here she was matching root words to create compound words that make sense. I am thinking that "somecraft" doesn't make sense.
D has a thing for chinchillas and S has this thing for blow-fish. We watched some blow-fish videos on YouTube and then she designed a stuffed animal blow-fish she would like me to sew for her. 

The drawing on the right is S's drawing. The drawing on the left is my, how-the-heck-am-I-going-to-sew-this, drawing. S said that mine liked like a blimp. I took out the transportation social classification cards I just made for D (thank you Jenn) to show her a blimp and she said, "yes! Your blow-fish looks just like that!" I said that hers looked cuter than mine. She said, "of course it does Mommy."
D and I did some touch tablets. These come after the touch boards in the tactile sensorial sequence. There are five pairs of tablets, and each pair has a varying grade of rough sandpaper on it. These tablets are also slightly different in color as well. I removed two pairs to start. 

D sensitized his hands first and then we practiced the light touch we use to feel the boards. You can see D's "sleepy" hand above.
Here he is also feeling the tablets correctly. The touch pressure should be very, very light. The tips of the fingers are very sensitive and we don't need to scrape the skin over the sandpaper. We aren't exfoliating here. This light touch prepares the child for the sandpaper letters a bit later on. 

First D selected a single tablet to feel. Then he selected a second tablet to feel. After comparing the two, he decided whether they felt the same or different. (This set is the rough gradation set. There is also a smoother gradation set.) If the tablets felt the same, he places them as a pair to the left. If the tablets are not a match, he discards the non-match to the right side, and selects another tablet to compare.
We first do this lesson with the use of sight to get the hang of it. After the child is familiar with the procedure they will use a blindfold. D caught on quickly that the tablet pairs are color coded on the backside. I think it is time to introduce the blindfold.
After matching all five pairs we will move onto grading one of each pair. This work helps the child develop his/her sense of touch, and tactile discrimination. This lesson also helps prepare the child for writing.
The cultural folders in the Primary language albums are a huge, huge, huge, set of cards that illustrate all aspects of life around the globe. I am nearly finished making this set and will be very glad to be done with the whole thing.

In addition to the cultural cards I am endeavoring to collect a few "cultural" items the kids might find interesting and also point out some of the unique items we already have around the house, like these ducks. These are Korean wedding ducks that symbolize peace, fidelity and fertility. 
This work is work we did last week. I just didn't get around to editing it before now. I am already working on another post about the first part of this week and it will be published soon.


  1. I love doing botany in "winter" - it just seems to be more focused; then we can use the knowledge/experience gained in the summer time ;)

    1. I'd second that about botany being more focused. We continue this trend his week too with some really nice exploration. And as for winter, you could say that, but we are pretty sout, and things are looking to warm in a bit. I suspect that we will be putting seeds in the ground in a months time or so. The trees are already flowering here. I wanted to so dome exploration and focused examination right before we get outside again and see everything growing. (And before it gets too hot and you don't want to be outside anymore!)

  2. Getting warmer.... planting seeds....

    Our weather forecast (after freezing rain and a high of 50 today) calls or 6-18 inches of snow tomorrow into Thursday (depending on which of the 4 models are used for forecasting the weather).

    BUT we should be above freezing during the daytime over the weekend - so here is to the possibility of real maple syruping!!!!

  3. Okay. Now you are just making me a bit jealous! Sugaring was something I loved as a kid. My family didn't do it, but we had plenty of friends who did, and I was always able to go on a run, see the sap house, stoke the fire, and eat fresh syrup--warm on clean snow. Has to be fresh snow. Shaved ice is a distant second choice for sure. :) Do you have trees on your property?

  4. 26 trees - 5 Maple for sure - hoping 2 more are as well ;) We'll see when I drill the holes. Definitely excited!

  5. I always thought Montessori brings out the type a perfectionism in me. Hence the lack of materials in our classroom. But I'm starting to even not laminate things that will be used just 2-3 times anymore. Lol