Saturday, April 18, 2015

S-L-O-W-L-Y Restarting

I titled the post "Slowly" because that is how I felt our work progressed this week. But now after importing 42 pictures, I think we did quite a bit, even if it was, slowly.

Coming back to our school schedule is so hard for the kids. And for me. There is a lot of wandering. There is a lot of forgetting. There is a lot of moose-in-headlights-looks by children at the guide/parent. But we restart slowly, spend half days in the classroom, and start with "easier" works that somehow got stuck in their brains. I'd say it is more difficult for T to get back into the swing of things than it is for S. She was ready to go garden.
Radishes are already up. It is April 18th and I know someone of you who are reading haven't even put anything in the ground yet. It is supposed to be 90 degrees here tomorrow. I hope that the radishes that are still in the ground don't split.
S didn't bother to get out of pajamas to garden yesterday. This is our super ugly cat-keeper-awayer. We untie the sides and lift them up to access what is underneath. Good thing that we don't have to pick caterpillars or bugs or weed daily.
 So far, we have sage...
 ...bulbs (we'll see how these do, we put them in whicked late, so I don't know if they are going to make it)...
 ...edible chrysanthemum leaves (we use them in Korean soups)...
 ...a volunteer tomato, and lettuce in the front and green onion in the back...
 ...Chinese mustard leaf that we use for kimchee...
 ...and Korean green pepper (this one is in a planter because we started this guy inside a few weeks ago and I forgot to leave space for it in the garden beds.) Not shown is the perilla, or sesame plants, that have just germinated. I am hoping they make it and grow well here. I also make a kimchee type dish out of these leaves. It is a bit labor intensive but it tastes great and keeps for a long time in our separate Korean fridge. You need a ton of leaves to make it worth your while, but the packets you can buy in the store are so expensive and only contain like 20 leaves, (you'd need like 300 leaves) that I am very much hoping that we can grow some from seed for just a few pennies.
S harvested her first radishes. I had nothing to do with these plants. She stuck them in the ground in herself watered them herself (she got a bit of help from the sky) and harvested them herself. Most things I try to grow don't. S has a "fairy-garden-glove covered" green thumb.
I don't know if anyone will be allowed to eat these. She grew a couple of radishes back in VA and took one to show her former Montessori school teacher who promptly ate it thinking it was a gift. You should have seen the look on S's face!! "YOU ATE MY RADISH??!!" So for now these are hanging out in the fridge.
S wanted to draw one. She paid extra attention to the root, the leaves and the stems.

Then I suggested we go upstairs and research the names of some of the forms she drew. She figured out that the radish taproot formation is a napiform-shaped root.
And then we began to look at leaf venations and margins. But when you give a girl like S a radish, she is going to want to paint it, label it's root type, and leaf venation type. And when she sees the type of venation is pinnate venation, she is going to want to get a feather because pinnate means "feathered." And when she gets a feather, it will remind her to look at the leaf margins. And when she looks at the leaf margin chart she will remember that we have some of those formations in our botany cabinet. And when she gets the insets out of the botany cabinet, she will want to trace them. And after tracing the linear leaf margin because it looks most like her feather, she will remember that our grass-bushy-plant out front has a leaf margin just like it. And when she remembers that plant outside, she will need to find a scissors and collect a specimen...
And after she has collected a specimen and noted that it has a parallel venation pattern, she will want to look at the linear leaf under the microscope. And when she sees that the whole leaf is too thick for our compound microscope, she will want to dissect the specimen. And after she dissects the specimen and examines it, she will see that her work space is covered with plant related materials and she will notice her watercolor of her radish she grew in the garden. 
And when she sees the watercolor painting she will remember she needs to write down that radish leaves have pinnate venation. And after she writes this bit down and affixes her label card to her illustration, she will want to clean up...and at this point her guide is thinking thank-goodness...and now you can imagine the final illustration of a mama dragging along behind on the last page of this "if you give a girl a radish" story, just like the girl or boy is always dragging along behind the animal that got into everything. (If you haven't read "If You Give a Pig a Pancake..." this mini story is kind of like that. And it all unfolded kind of like that. Who knew that those books were so Montessori?)

So to conclude...S asked if she could do more drawings of more vegetables and then she began lamenting that she wanted to do carrots with tops on next, but carrots don't grow well around these parts because we picked the wrong state and it is just so hot here. I told her that we could purchase a few from the grocery and that they do sell carrots in their entirety.

I feel that this is an excellent exploration for S. She found a new material in the classroom, our Botany nomenclatures materials from Montessori R&D, and she got to do some research on her own, and she is investigating something really interesting to her. I suggested she work on a portfolio of labeled specimens and she agreed that this would be something that she would like to do. I think on Monday we'll put together a list of vegetables and fruits I am going to have to collect for her plant studies.
Meanwhile T got down to business wrapping up extending his tornado research. He finished the bulk of his research a while back, but we never did anything with the research. So now I am guiding him through the process of compiling his data and organizing it to be presented.
Here, we are sifting through his researched info to find the "bits" that are most important and/or very interesting. We are writing these "bits" or ideas down on note cards without regard to grammar or spelling. We are just getting those "bits" or ideas down.  After this stage, we will go back through and write sentences on more note cards that correspond to these ideas. At this point we will make sure to use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. And then we will organize the sentences into report-style paragraphs. Finally, we will edit everything to make sure it all makes sense, is what we intended to say in the first place, and is grammatically correct. 

Since T has so much trouble organizing his thoughts and writing them down, I thought that this "let's get the bit-ideas" approach to writing might help. If this isn't the way that resonates with him we will find another way.

In addition to a written report, I plan to guide him through some chart making so we can visually present some of his data as well. After the written work is done I hope to make a presentation video with him that we can send to friends and family to get some feedback that he can then apply to a new research project of his choice.

This sequence isn't a lesson in my albums. I am now reading the bits of the albums that I had been saving for later, like the writing, researching, and presenting part of the elementary language album. Writing, researching, and presenting is all in that album but it isn't organized into "lesson" format. So, because I am a list-person, I am synthesizing a sequence of writing/oral presentation lessons to present and then will present them based upon T's interests, in the hopes that I can help him develop some communication tools he can use in his future endeavors. 
And there was more Asia. This is from Safari Toobs and it is the Great Buddha in Hong Kong, China.
This is my husband in Hong Kong, China, just under the Great Buddha. The kids thought it was pretty cool that daddy went there.
And there are some more family pictures; me under the Toyko Tower, and my parents looking at a wishing wall in Japan.
D decided to put stick the photos to the sides of the shelves near his table.
I've been of course collecting more books. This book is The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi. It is about the girl's Korean name and how when she came to America other children didn't understand how to say her name. 
This is a traditional stamp Korean people typically use to sign official documents like bank papers and such. The symbols say Chan Un-Hee, though this isn't the way they pronounce it in the story. The romanization is a bit odd, but to point out why would be to give away the ending of the story and I wouldn't want to spoil it all. To native English speakers the pronunciation will not matter.
The book Toy is from Thailand by Whitney Badgett is another good read about a lot of Thai culture experienced through out a day in the life of a school-aged child.
D's favorite part was how Thai people say hello to one another.
And then D moved on to the southern part of the African puzzle map. I guess he was feeling nostalgic. (The little guy can't remove nor replace these puzzle maps with his arm in a cast and he hates, hates, hates, asking for help.)
Oh gosh, there is no "baby-look" in this picture. His GROWING UP!! My baby is growing up!! Okay, I've gotten a grip now...
D took out the sound cylinders at one point on Friday. He matched them by looking at the number coding on the bottoms, not by listening to them only, and then we did a bit of grading, listening to which one was louder and loudest. He did a good job with the grading. And then D wanted to stack the sound cylinders. I think he did it mostly to get me to "say-something," which I didn't. And then they fell over and made a loud crash. None were broken. I then made a comment that perhaps he'd like to take out the boxes with the colored tops because they were filled with interesting cylinders too.

I turned away and when I turned back, D was putting the sound cylinders in their boxes, counting to make sure there were six in each box, and getting out the green and red box of knobless cylinders. He first took out the green set and made the tower you see above. I didn't give him a lesson, but basically this is the lesson. The thrust of this material is to be able to compare and contrast dimension among the cylinders in each set and between different sets. These knobless cylinders match the dimensions of the knobbed cylinders in the blocks.
Then he built a tower with the red set. And then he built a tower using both sets together. Good thing he is lefty.
S is now working on the multiplication memorization charts while continuing with the subtraction charts. She is using her shopkins again. And maybe when I get a better picture of the chart itself, I can explain how she uses it. But in this shot anyway she is creating her own multiplication control chart. She figured out it is just like her skip counting.

Now that I think about it, this girl LOVES, LOVES, LOVES, handwriting. She is always writing stories and illustrating. I have reams of paper with pictures, words, and other bits she has created. It is interesting to me that she loves expressing her thoughts in this way but with the boys, well, it may be all in there somewhere, but it isn't coming out through the hand without a lot of encouragement.

I don't know why we didn't elect to sit in a chair. And you can see we didn't really get fully "ready-for-the-day." Oh, right, we had already been outside gardening in our pajamas anyway.
D decided to do his Melissa and Doug 48 piece safari floor puzzle. He had kind of a time of it with the cast but he was successful in the end. 
After completing this puzzle, he promptly asked for his traffic jam 48 piece floor puzzle from Melissa and Doug. It has cars and trucks on it.
And finally, more sandpaper letters!!! (I wrote about these first in this post. Thank you, to that someone who set me straight about the Dwyer/AMI line-up. It is in the comments of that post I just linked.)

D is so eager to learn these. SO EAGER. He gets mad when S and T are reading silently and they aren't playing with him. He knows something good is going on there and HE wants to be a part of it. Sometimes it helps to be the younger child.
I was all set to proceed as the albums and Dwyer suggest, introducing three letter forms at a time and doing the three period lesson, but that strategy lasted a day. I think it was Thursday when he demanded that we "feel" ALL the sounds. He didn't learn all the sound symbols but he did "feel" all of them.

Okay, "time-out" can anyone help me here? What do you call these and this that we are doing? Are we "feeling sounds?" He already knows his sounds. Can you feel a sound? Are we "seeing what [c] looks like?" And then what about the tracing part? Are we just tracing that "symbol" or that "letter"? How is this phrased? Should I just go and look at my primary albums? I can't remember anything sometimes. 

Anyway, D likes to "drive" on the dirt road, so that is what he does when he traces his sandpaper letters. And there are a lot of Disney Cars references, when he says, "D can turn on dirt!" He also likes it when the letters have friends and are double letter sounds, like on the green boards. And most of the time he traces them correctly after seeing me trace it only once. I can tell he likes the "flow" of the cursive. 
T wrote down a cheat sheet of which symbols D has covered and which he can then help D practice. 
As of Friday, he has down; short-a, s, t, hard-c, short-u, sh, m, oy, ch, and r.  I think if I had remembered to put these letters out too he would also have been able to pick out qu, b, m, and ee, d, h, short-i, short-u, and j. This is third period lesson when I ask, "what is this symbol say," and he can name them for me.
This is the short o.
And, because he is already asking, "HOW DO YOU SPELL, [YOU NAME IT]"...I decided to throw out my plan and introduce the moveable alphabet. Most of these sounds he knew. I think I had to help with "i" since the dot isn't "attached" at the top. He was SO VERY EXCITED that he could make words.
He also figured out that he could spell "cast." He segmented the sounds, found them in the box without help, and put them together. 

There was one point at which he tried to place a "next letter" to the left of the previous letter, but when I reminded him that we start next to the box, he was all good.

I wasn't planning on introducing the moveable alphabet yet. I hope it wasn't a mistake in someway. But at this point, he is practicing segmenting and finding the sounds he does know in the moveable alphabet box. He loves knowing that he can communicate and hopefully this will inspire quick work with the sandpaper letters. I feel like I am holding my breath hoping that we don't run into a wall somewhere.

Oh, the moveable alphabet is for the child who wants to write and communicate their thoughts visually but may not yet be able to form letter symbols with a pencil and paper. 

Our moveable alphabet is from Montessori Outlet. The box is huge. Apparently there are different sizes of moveable alphabet, but I haven't a clue what size this is since I wasn't focused on that bit when I purchased this set two years ago. This moveable alphabet generally corresponds to our sandpaper letters and all alphabet consonants are red and vowels are blue. (T's moveable alphabet and sandpaper letters in his old Montessori class were reverse; vowels were red and consonants were blue. I have been told this doesn't really matter as long as the sandpaper letters are the same as the moveable alphabet you use.) There is a lot more to this material, but I am missing my iPad at the moment and this is where I reference all the lesson details I write them down I'll fill in the gaps next time.

Well that is it for the second half of our week! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


  1. It's so exciting seeing D move so quickly into the sandpaper letters and movable alphabet! I'm looking forward to my DJ following in his footsteps. DJ hated the sound games so I moved on to SPL and now he's doing sound games on his own all.the.time. It's fascinating to see when their interest truly takes hold, like with S and her radish. Thank you for your weekly posts about your children's school! It's so inspiring to me.

    1. Aww, thank you! and you are welcome.

  2. I seriously think you should publish "When you give a girl a radish". I would buy it :) I love the work you did, because if it went like it looks, it flowed right along with your day. Sometimes, our best work is what flows right along with our day, and usually never gets captured on camera :)

    1. You make me laugh. S loves those books.

  3. He can totally start on the movable alphabet; but hone in on those SPL pretty quickly so he has all the tools he needs to write anything he wants without hindrance. However, you can use his interest in writing a paricular word to show him a particular SPL as well.

  4. Ooooh, more school stuff! Looks so good!

    Ha! We don't have the pig one but we have If You Give a Moose a Muffin! The other "If You Give" titles are in my Amazon cart

    Oh my gosh! D does look so big there! No chubs in the face!

    And I would totally use the moveable alphabet to bring out more sp letters. That is what we had to do for Tes! If she got stuck, I'd grab the box and show her the one she was trying to make the sound for. It worked out fine. I still have to review some from time to time but they are mainly the phonograms.

    Oooh and I've already added your Thailand and Korean book to my cart! Thanks!