We are back at it after a two week break which was made especially nice by a very good friend who came a long way to visit us in Texas.
After the visit we found out that D had broken his elbow. Technically the pediatric orthopedic doctor didn't know for sure that his elbow was broken. But he couldn't rule out that possibility. So after a great deal of pain, many x-rays, and hundreds of dollars later (and we have insurance!!) he is in a full hard cast for three weeks to see if there is healing. If there is healing he may need some more "rest." If he is healed then he can go on his merry way. D picked a man-ly blue color for his cast. Now he is fine, not in pain anymore, and is slowly figuring out how to do things with only one arm.
So, we are finally back in the classroom. Since all are easing back in slowly we did just a little bit today.
D started sandpaper letters. I reviewed my Dwyer booklet last night to confirm we are ready to move on and we are. The sandpaper letters are the first lesson in the writing sequence. The Montessori sequence guides primary children to write before they can read.
We've done I Spy-style, and purely oral, sound games focusing on beginning sounds (b-b-bee) and ending sounds (fox-x-x) and middle sounds (ch-er-er-er-ch.) And we segmented multi-syllable worlds like rh-i-n-o-ce-r-o-s. And we read stories and poems every day. We worked on expanding vocabulary, rhyming words, looking for "like-words" and "opposite-words." We also "found" words that all contained a same sound "cap, crane, crack." I think most of this aural prep work took about 7 months or so. Of course he has also been talking, listening and exploring language generally for his entire life. Now he is very nearly 4, so by Montessori's standards we are behind. By absolute terms, we seem to be on target for him.
I am a little confused about how the Dwyer booklet lines up with the KotW albums. Dwyer assures her readers that the methods she outlines are Montessori methods. I feel that the KotW albums give a lot of detailed lesson description and the booklet is a more concise outline of all that is to happen in writing and reading sequence. I like how simple the Dwyer booklet makes everything seem, so for now I am going with that.
After a thorough period of aural training the child will be able to hear each of the 40+ sounds in the English language in all the words they are saying. This is the time when the guide begins to show the child that we can use symbols to represent those sounds.
I selected three letter symbols to start. (We have a cursive sandpaper letters from Montessori Outlet.) I showed him one sound symbol at a time, by tracing the symbol with my left hand and then saying the sound that corresponds. Then I invited him to do the same. Really, it wasn't so much of an invitation, as it was allowing him to get his little anxious hand on the material. He traced the sound symbol with his dominant left hand and then said the sound it made. Then we played the rest of the three period lesson. (The first period is when I show him which symbol makes what sound.)
In the second period part of the lesson I asked him to show me the symbol that said the sound I requested. "Please show me the sound "a." He's select that sandpaper letter board, trace it and say the sound "a." Afterward we'd think of some words that contained that sound like, "apple, ax, astronaut." He got pretty goofy during this part and I am trying to figure out why he is seemingly less focused, and more tense these days. Too much screen time? Perhaps.
In the third period, I'd ask him to name the sound for me. I'd select a sandpaper letter and ask him what sound that symbol represented. He'd trace the sandpaper letter symbol and say which sound it made.
Tracing the sandpaper letter is critical for muscle memory and later handwriting. D is the only of my three children who will receive cursive first. Both T and S learned print first at their Montessori school.
D has been itching to learn the sandpaper letters. It was just before we took our two week break when he asked me how to write a Christmas letter to Santa and how to spell "Tokyo-Mater." He now seems pretty excited about this new material that is "all-his" so we'll see how this sequence goes.
We also started our Asia cultural studies. I've designed most of the activities, stories, and lessons for the primary age, but in our classroom, elementary level T and S always join in too. So far, I have an arsenal of music, crafts, coins and paper money, story books, Nanoblock landmarks, recipes, country flags, personal photos, a book about Korean first birthdays, a carved box from India, a ceramic "om" plate from India, and cultural cards. There are just a couple more fun items I am planning to pick up in the coming weeks.
The way I am organizing these cultural units is not in the KotW primary albums. The cultural cards are, but the rest is not. I am choosing not to have cultural boxes either, but instead, collect items that I will slowly add to our classroom environment that represent cultural topics that are familiar to me.
Above are a few of our Safari Toob landmarks (The Great Wall of China, The Great Buddha, and The Taj Mahal) and a very short Asia cookbook I made.
These are pictures of Japanese bento-inspired lunch boxes.
This is our new CD from Putamayo, Asia Playground. S was very excited about this one.
T and D got to working on the Nanoblock Kaminarimon gate that is in Japan.
I just happened to have a picture of me under that gate. I was afraid that the lantern was going to fall on my head.
This is the market behind the gate.
And this is the finished gate. This thing is tiny!!
And finally, a pic of our injured one...
I'll be checking back in later in the week so stay tuned!