Thursday, March 12, 2015

With a Little Help From My Friends

Spring, spring are you there? 

I'm still trying to find out.

S and T got into the week with a little bit of constructive triangles work. This is the box of blue triangles and they are creating equivalent figures. All of the blue triangles are congruent and therefore any two figures built with the same number of blue triangles will be equivalent. (I can't remember where I got these cards...I made them almost two years ago. Maybe Montessori Print Shop? Helpful Garden? Our blue triangles are from Montessori Outlet. And in this photo they look a bit neon.They aren't in real life.)
Then D decided to get in on the triangles action, without a lesson and without a rug. He did just fine making different shapes, and then figuring out how to put all the triangles back in the rectangular box.
Sorry this picture looks really dark. S finished the blank addition finger chart. This is the fourth and final chart in the addition chart sequence. (I talk about her other addition chart work here and here.) 

Here she is using her shopkins to mark out the space where she will put her tile. She grabs an equation from the equation box, reads it and then finds its sum. Then she figures out where on the addition board she should put that sum. With her right finger she finds the first addend at the top in the blue row, and then with her left finger she finds the second addend in the left red column and then traces her fingers, or in this case shopkins, together to find where the sum should go on the board.
After she finished the entire board was covered in tiles. About half way through she figured out that there was a pattern. She didn't write anything down for this lesson. After this, I'll give her the option of doing multiplication with beads and the subtraction snake game.
T finally revisited the logical analysis (or sentence analysis) work. I think the last time we did this, was here. This time he seemed to just get it like it's no big deal. But he still isn't interested in taking it off the shelf. I am going to have to find some other "activities" to help encourage some repeat work in this area. Any suggestions out there? (I am considering getting ETC Montessori's packet--already laminated.)
D can now do all the dressing frames, except the tying frame, by himself. (And wow, the flash was off this day. This shot looks like it was taken over by blue aliens. But the blue aliens didn't cover up D's very cute chubby hands.)
D is still pulling out the puzzle maps. He seems to be at the right age for this work now. Here is he trying to fit Mexico under the USA but it is upside down. Mexico is upside down.
And Mexico is still upside down. I haven't shown him the control maps yet. I don't know why exactly but it is probably because I don't want him to use them as a crutch. In the map of North America, every puzzle piece has at least one ocean border, so it should be easy for the child to fit any individual piece back in the puzzle form to find its location and orientation. Perhaps for other continents, like Africa, I'll introduce the control map.

For maps like this one, he does re-orientate the puzzling piece by fitting it back into the puzzle form. Then he transfers it directly from the puzzle form to the rug set up.
Here he has finished building North America outside the puzzle form and he has noticed that there are two islands. I told him one of the islands is named Cuba and the other has two pieces and they are named, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

This continent puzzle map stuff comes after the world puzzle map lesson. These lessons are all in the Sensorial Aspects of the World section of the primary sensorial album.

At first I tried giving D language to go with the continents puzzle map. But he wasn't interested in that three period lesson and at that point he didn't want to work with the maps. Recently we stumbled back onto the puzzle map of North America because he wanted to see where Juan Quezada lived and then we got stuck in Canada investigating maple syrup production. 

I am thinking we'll investigate a few other cultural aspects of some of the other countries in the North American continent before moving on to another continent. Or, we'll just move onto another continent when the time feels right. 

I am trying hard to get our continent folders ready for viewing and this is a HUGE job. 

In the meanwhile I am also on a collecting spree. I am not planning to put together continent boxes, but rather small collections of interesting items from various countries that we can talk about, read stories about, display in our classroom, and investigate further. I suppose I could put all of these items in a box and call it a continent box, but then I'd have to make the boxes and I am not feeling like I want to make those.
After putting away the North American puzzle map, D took out the World Puzzle Map. And then he asked about the green continent. S whispered in his ear that it was called "Africa" and then I had an idea.
We've had this book kicking around for a while now, and it was perfect for this occasion. Wangari's trees are green and so is the Montessori puzzle piece for Africa. It was a good connection and I think D is going to remember the name "Africa." 

If you have the book Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace by Jen Johnson, you don't need this book. They are the similar stories about the same woman, Wangari Maathai. I think the Seeds of Change book is a recommended read in either the KotW or the KotU albums.
Then I found this story on our regular shelves about some very clever ladies in Iceland. So if you are looking for cultural stories about people in different countries, this could be a good one for your European continent studies.
This was the demonstration for the Land and Sea Breezes presentation in the Work of Air section of the Geography KotU album. And it worked beautifully.

As you can see, we have an aluminum pie plate filled with water and another filled with grey course sand. I got the sand from the craft store because I live in the silly suburbs where you have to buy sand. I used disposable aluminum pie plates because aluminum cools down quickly. We needed to heat the pie pans and then I needed to be able to transfer them to the fridge and so quick cooling aluminum was the way to go. And that is my digital candy thermometer there, which did a good job of reading out the low temperatures.
So, first we took a temperature read of the water in the pie plate and noted this. Then we put the water in the pie plate over the gas burner set to level 2 and started our stopwatch. We waited for three minutes before turning off the gas. Then we removed the pie plate from the burner and took a second temp read before putting the plate in the fridge to cool. When we put the water in the fridge to cool we re-started our stopwatch to time 10 minutes of cooling. 

While the water was cooling, we took a temp read of the sand in the second pie plate and then heated this for 3 minutes at the same gas level. After which we removed the sand plate from the burner, took a second temp read and then stuck it in the fridge for 10 minutes of timed cooling.

After the water had cooled for 10 minutes we took it out of the fridge and took a third temp read, and finally did the same for the sand plate.

Then we did a little math to find how much the sand and water had heated up and then how much they had cooled down. We found that the water didn't heat up as much as the sand did. And we also found that the water didn't cool down as much as the sand did. In both cases we were talking about degrees of change, rather than absolute temperatures.
These were our little time keepers. S did water, D did sand and T did the temp reads and the notation, and the math.
After the demonstration we went back to the classroom to look at our Geography charts. (These charts I made with watercolors last year.) We talked about how the sun heats up the land and water during the day. Since land heats up more than water, it heats up the air just above it more too. This warmer air rises and draws in the cooler air off the water. This creates winds that move toward the shore line and these are called on-shore breezes.
We also talked about how during the nighttime, the land and water cool down, and that the land cools down more than the water. In this case the water remains warmer than the land and heats the air just above it which rises and draws out the cooler air from over the land. These winds that move away from the shore are called off-shore breezes. We also talked about our recent trip to Mexico and how it was always windy on the beach no matter the time of day.
S started division with bows. We did a run through of division with the golden beads, but then moved on quickly to division with bows. (T did this lesson last year with ninjas.) If you want to know how to do this work, you can see my post about that here.
S did this work with regular bows I had made from dollar store ribbon, instead of alien ninjas. (You'll need green, blue and red ribbon.) (Those alien ninjas are hiding out in my Montessori supply closet right now waiting for D, though S thought that he'd likely like construction vehicles or monster trucks when he gets to this work.)

Instead of "trays" I used color coordinated felt pieces. (I used the cheap-o polyester felt rather than real wool felt. I do love real wool felt much better, but time got the better of me and there wasn't time to send-away for the better stuff.) These are cheaper and easier to store.

S definitely understands the general concept here and can complete each problem, even ones she makes up, with help. She isn't remembering all the details though and sometimes looses track of who got what and then who gets what. She is learning ways to check her work though and that in the end each bow should have an equal number of "bead pieces" even though they may not be all the same categories.

After gaining solid mastery of this dynamic two digit divisor work, we'll pause until we have done a lot of stamp game work with all two digit divisors and then three digit divisors before moving on to three digit divisors with bows and then the elementary racks and tubes! 

S is simultaneously doing stamp game division. (Not because this is what the albums indicate, but because she wants to do all things division at the moment and I waited until now to do golden bead division with her.) I don't think that T ever got to this work it was one of those going from AMS at school to AMI at home gaps. But as you'll see in later posts, he is doing just find in the division corner. 

Here she has created a dividend, or a quantity to divide up among her three unit shopkins. She has noted that each shopkin is a unit shopkin with small green skittles. She will give each unit shopkin an equal portion of the dividend and then count up what a single unit shopkin received to find the quotient.

In this case, one unit shopkin received 1,123.
The prerequisite for this work is stamp game multiplication. 

In the albums I have, the photos have the set up opposite from the way we have it. The divisor is along the top of the rug and the dividend is at the bottom of the mat. Since we chose to create our dividend first, we put this at the top of our mat, and the divisor, represented by shopkins, is at the bottom of the mat.

The first step in stamp game division is static division, so there is no exchanging and no remainders, and no zeros in the dividend. The steps that follow include: dynamic division with a single digit divisor, dynamic division with a two digit divisor, dynamic division with a three digit divisor, three digit dynamic division with a zero in the tens place, and finally three digit dynamic division with a zero in the units place. Goodness. 

Originally, I had put together cards for only two levels. (Maybe because I had been working with another set of albums.) Now I am realizing that I am going to have to make some more problem cards, pronto.
This is one of the extensions to the Squares and Cubes Notation Game 4: The Decanomial Square. (You can read about the other games here.) We skipped the "work backward from the tower to the decanomial layout" extension and went on to the draw the layouts on graph paper, specifically the layout with "elbows." As you can see above, our drawn illustration is not on graph paper. Maybe it would be neater if it were, but T and I didn't think it was really necessary. He still color coordinated his work and can tell where everything goes.

Then we got to work, using only paper and pencil, writing the first decanomial layout in addition problems. Basically we used the commutative law of multiplication to multiply out each term in (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9+10)^2. It took us a LONG time, and a LOT of paper. Then we combined like terms and wrote the "shortened" numeric version.

I wrote the first "long" multiplication equation, and T told me each term. Then he wrote the "shortened" equation himself.
This is receipt tape paper.
S helped D out a little bit with his sound objects.
T worked on a few prefixes finally. This work is supposed to come in year one of lower elementary, so we are behind the ball a bit here. He has had this work on his "planning list" for a number of weeks now, but finally decided to do it and finished the work with the extension work in one sitting. 

Here he is using the printed alphabets, and our prefix chart, to create several prefix-root combinations. If I had had my druthers, I would have reversed the color combo and made the prefix, or the part of the word we are focusing on, red. But T got to it first and I didn't correct him. After using the printed alphabet, he used colored pencils and created the other half of the list in his working notebook, writing the prefix one color and the root word another color.

The album recommends later dictation work, mixing the suffixes and prefixes and allowing the children to point out each. Another extension could be examining how the prefix can change a verb to a noun, or another part of speech.

D has not been interested in the geometry cabinet. I think I got to this material too late with him. He doesn't want to use it as a trace-the-piece-trace-the-inset puzzle activity working with one drawer. He doesn't want to do the puzzle activity using more than one drawer. He doesn't want to learn the names of the figures in any drawer. He doesn't want to do distance matching and he doesn't want to scatter the shapes in the environment and then match them to the frames. And he doesn't want to do ANY of this with ANY cards, especially the geometry cabinet solid, thick-lined, and thin-lined card set I just barely finished coloring by hand and laminating.

He WAS interested in THIS activity though. I remember reading about this activity, but I just don't remember where.

In the shot above, he has removed the geometric shape and was rotating it to see if he could stick it back in the frame in another orientation. He did this exercise with two drawers at a time and he found out that all the regular polygons can be rotated in any orientation and still fit inside their frame.
Among all the insets in these two drawers, he found out that the two shapes he is touching in the shot above, fit in their frame in only one orientation. There is no rotating allowed.
He found that all of THESE figures fit into their frames in more than one way. He ended up working on all the drawers in this manner.
I also presented the first elementary adjective grammar lesson to S.
First, I asked her for a pencil. When she brought me a regular lead number 2 pencil, I said that THAT pencil wasn't the one that I wanted and I asked her to bring me another pencil. Then she looked at me and smiled and asked me "what KIND of pencil do you want?" I said that I wanted a red pencil. After she brought me a red pencil I asked her how she knew which pencil to bring me, and she said that the word "red" told her which kind of pencil to bring.

I told her that the word "red" gave her some more information about the noun word, "pencil" and that there are a lot of helpful words like "red" that can help describe nouns.
We took out the first adjective grammar filling box and got to work. At first I couldn't remember why there were two sets of cards in this box. I think I had made this "easy reader" set for S before she was a proficient reader. This time she was able to read all of the adjective, noun, and article cards in the box and she knew what to do.

Afterward, we discussed the symbols we used to note adjectives, nouns and articles. In this case, the dark blue, medium triangular pyramid is the solid shape we use for adjectives. It is like a smaller version of the black noun pyramid

I am sure that we will be doing more adjective work in the near future and I'll write more then. 
And here, we are getting a little help from our friends. Some of you may recognize this little guy from Jenn's Oh No Pancakes! blog. Well we live pretty close to them and we visit regularly. This time we all did some "school" together. I'd say that it all went very smoothly for a first time. I am sure that there will be more "combined" class time in the future.
D saw Tes doing some animal puzzles, so he joined in too. These two are about a year a part, D is younger.
T and MJ got right to work sharing tornado stories. These two are about 6 months apart. T is older.
This was their set up at the bigger elementary table: papers, maps, road atlas, tornado reference books, print outs from NOAA, and a baby toy.

Cat saw our LBF and got to work with her mom/guide.
After that, S and Cat got to work on the blue geometry triangles and cards making equivalent shapes. S and Cat are about 6 months apart. S is older.

Here, Cat and S are helping Tes with her sandpaper letters/sounds that she is finding all over the environment.
Cat and S are working with our animals of the continents materials from Waseca. S has read through pretty much all the animal readers so she knows which animals live on which continent. But the wooden cut outs are labeled on the back side, so Cat could tell which continent they came from too if she wasn't at first sure.
Back in the same corner, all three girls worked on categorizing our collection of Safari Toobs animals by habitat: land, water, or air. (Although I suppose no one really lives in the air. But that is where we place our birds because they do spend more time in the air than any of the other animals.)
And finally the girls got together to explore some factions (sorry, not pictured here) and then someone had a question about odds and evens. So we took out the cards and counters (ours happen to be cut-out numerals and counters from Montessori Outlet) and we did the odd and even lesson. (I thought that I had a run down of this lesson on the blog, but now I can't find it.)
As a last work of the day, T and MJ decided to do pin-maps. These are part of the set I created about a year ago for the United States. (If I ever wanted the kids to do a pin map for the rest of the world, I am buying it. Seriously.)

And finally, this is D's "maybe, if I just ignore the baby, it will go away" face.

It was so great to have friends over to share our space with us. Even though the combined classroom was new for everyone, I think everyone actually got into the work a little deeper. I observed how working with a partner can truly benefit the child's work. Additional ideas inspire other interests, new ideas, and new exploration. All the kids really enjoyed the experience and everyone was excited to have their friends "do class" with them. I also figured out that 7 is probably about the capacity of our small space. We can't wait to do this again.


  1. Wow! This is just SOO wonderful. Love it. Great work. Beautiful pics of ALL the kids together. So envious!

    Those kids are so lucky to have the both of you.

    I should have figured you already had a stash of receipt tape. They seem to only sell that stuff by the case. I would NOT have thought to use it for that work and it's coming up for us. Thanks for the tip.

    Look carefully at the sentence analysis samples before you buy. I'd have to double check, but most of the 6-9 set is subject, verb, direct object. I think there are other adverbial extensions in the last set or two. If T is using the big chart already you might want to skip right to the 9-12 or get both since you have younger kids. I think the 9-12 sentence analysis is in the ETC 9-12 "grammar curriculum."

    On a side note, we just covered ancient Africa on SOTW this week and I just picked up a stack of picture books from the library. I'll let you know what's good.

    1. Now, you just have to move here, or we both have to move there, and then we'll be almost a full classroom! --with three guides. T asked if he could do school with your guys.

      Receipt tape...yes, only sold by the case. I think we ended up getting three rolls at one time. (And then got another from Hello Wood when we got their quarter materials.

      I'll take a look at those ETC sets more carefully. Thanks for the tip on these.

      Any book recommendations would be much appreciated. So far we've been pretty lucky with the ones I've gotten. We'll see how that all shakes out with my large book order I just made. :) to post about your ancient Africa studies? :) I am planning to start in on these topics this summer/fall.

    2. Ha! I am never moving again. I am just two bathrooms and a new patio away from getting this place just the way I like it.

      I don't know that I'm going to post about our history work. It's just Story of the World. We started by listening to the audiobook version while the kids eat a meal or draw as recommended by Montessori. The boys like it so much we started doing more. I bought the activity book which has a bunch of great things. We do some narration. We always do the map page for each chapter. Me Too likes to color the coloring page, Kal-El skips that. I always get the additional literature. So far all of the "additional literature" recommendations have been outstanding. The additional research books are too heavy for my boys though. They are listed in separate sections. They always have project ideas as well. These we do only when one of the boys says something like, "Hey mom, for kid's choice I want to do more history on my own." or "Hey mom, for kid's choice can I learn more about ancient Africa?" For example, this weekend we will be making about six different great looking African recipe's. I'm skipping the clothes making and jewelry making. Fo I'm skipping the clothes making and jewelry making. I have been sometimes posting a picture of our bookrack that holds that type of stuff but I don't know how much else. The reason I don't post about it much is because is supplemental. And probably the main reason is that if someone wants to really learn about SOTW there are whole blogs and pinterest pages devoted to that. Because we are so busy with our core Montessori stuff whatever we do is pretty light.

    3. Have you seen that show Love it or List it? (Maybe canadian...) I bet we could find you a cheaper home that would have all the perfect amenities you want/need/could ever wish for...or maybe I am just wishing. We'll just have you visit a lot. And we'll visit there too. See just inviting us all over ahead of time.

      Gotcha. That's about what I needed to know about the Story of the World stuff. And why in the world would you be skipping the jewelry making with two boys? :) S would most definitely NOT let us skip that...if I had time to even look in that direction.

      I have a HUGE bunch of materials on my plate this weekend...I called off extended school today so I could catch up. Now if I could just get Owl City's theme song for the movie Wreck It Ralph out of my head...

    4. Hey wow! It actually looks like my kids are getting some schooling Just kidding! I like that you were able to pretty much do all the teaching while I chased after Swiper! Hopefully next time it will be more "normal" to him and not so new and inviting. It's like he didn't know which way to go, he wanted all of it at, new, new! Anyway, he is totally "walking" now, everywhere. Hopefully I can get him into a chair at a table and next time might be a bit more manageable for me :). Thanks again! It was fun!