Wednesday, April 22, 2015


We start off with a little bit more about Asia! Above is our Taj Mahal from Safari Toobs and our puzzle map of Asia from Montessori Outlet.
We also started exploring our cultural cards for Asia. This is also the Nanoblock version of the Taj Mahal, built by S. As D was connecting the Nanoblock version with our photo version, told him a bit about how Emperor Shah Jahan built this mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
There was an intense Nanoblock session over the weekend.
 My husband helped D build the very, very, very complicated and tiny St. Basil's Cathedral.

D realized that these new structures, were similar to the Kaminarimon Gate and the Great Pyramid set we have.

 D also remembered that Ishani from Disney Planes flew around the Taj Mahal.
And then when D saw this card from our Asia cultural set, he thought of...
 ...the Nanoblock set he built.

T has been working to memorize the countries in Europe. I didn't suggest this lesson. He is almost all the way there, but is still working on Yugoslavia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania.
This is the back-side of Russia, and I don't think it is right side up.
More sandpaper letters. I think we are going to need to institute some order and organization in our presentation. D just likes doing ALL the sounds. I don't. And he doesn't actually remember ALL the sounds when we do ALL the sounds. Then again, this could be a case of him exploring a lot, not retaining a lot, and then all of a sudden it all just clicks and he remembers everything and proceeds forth like a speeding bullet. That is, after all, how he learned his beginning, middle and ending sounds.
D spelled "Boost" which is the name of one of the hot rod cars in the Disney Cars movie. The key spelling for "oo" is "ue." At this stage in the game, all words that have the "oo" sound in them will be spelled using "ue." The child will spell "blue," "nue" and "huet." Later on they will learn that there are multiple spellings for that same sound.
This is a very "grow-up" seeming shot of D documenting his work with the kid-camera.
These are a few of S's drawings of our prepared microscope slides.
S is still working through our stamp game division problems. I think this and the finger charts will wrap up shortly and we will officially begin elementary math.
T started working on some of our time task cards from ETC Montessori. I wrote more about this set of measurement cards here and included a list of materials you need to perform most of the tasks in this set.
We finally got back around to fractions. This is an area we've been largely neglecting. My scope and sequence album pages suggest all fraction lessons be introduced by year 2 and finished by year 3. We are not quite there. 
T and S have had some experience with fractions, so both whizzed through a review of naming, equivalencies, and addition and subtraction problems with like-denominators. Now it is on to some multiplication using whole numbers. The last time I posted about fractions was here, and here.
I am trying to encourage the children to write more. I have found in our homeschooling situation that this is one area that turns out very differently than it might in a traditional Montessori environment. The kids see me writing all the time, but they don't see 28 other children writing all the time--communicating all the time. And since T, S and D all communicate verbally pretty well, they don't see a lot of need to communicate visually. So I am trying to change this in our homeschool in a way that is perhaps a bit more "artificial" than it might be in a traditional Montessori setting. 

Many, many, many people who came before us left their legacy written down on paper, stone, or on clay tablets. These people were smart and they had something to share. They knew that they wanted to share their ideas with the people who would come after, people they would never meet. If they spoke their ideas, these ideas could be forgotten. If they wrote their ideas, these ideas could be preserved. I think of all the people who have written ideas that have in some way helped me live my life the way I am living it today, and I am thankful. It is my responsibility to help my children "know" these authors, these bearers of knowledge, and encourage an appreciation of their written contributions. It is also my responsibility to help my children to be able to, and want to, make their own written contributions to share with the world.  

The KotU albums offer numerous writing options and this has been so very helpful. These ideas aren't set up as "lesson pages" so you have to mine the ideas and synthesize a delivery method. 

One of the writing options is list-making and S wrote this down in her work journal. On any given day, I give her a topic and she writes down a list of all the things she can think of in that category. The list you see above is about "forest animals." She used our Temperate Forests of North America Animals cards we have from Waseca as a reference.
We also received some new readers from Waseca as well. These are part of the "Complete Set of the Parts of the Biome Readers." I think that S is reading the readers about the sun. I can't really yet tell you what I think about the readers, since S got to them before I could. 

From what I could see these readers progress to a slightly higher reading level than the "Complete Set of Biome Readers for all Continents." Each set for the Sun, the Soil/Water, the Plants, and the Animals, progresses from the easier red-booklet to the more challenging orange-booklet.  S, is considered an "early fluent" reader, (she can read books like Magic Treehouse) and these readers were no problem for her. She was very happy to get her hands on some newly laminated cards.
These readers came with another entire set of single word cards that correspond to all of the booklets. Some words are easier, like "eat" and others are more challenging like "energy." I don't know what to do with these cards. There isn't any mention of these cards on the Waseca site. Not having been through the Waseca reading program, I am assuming that maybe these are sight word cards. I feel if the child already knows the phonograms the majority of these cards aren't actually sight words. Since S already can read all of the words on these cards I've set them aside. When I figure out exactly how these cards are used I'll comment again.
This was S's reaction to D's demand to "read them ALL!" He thought her reaction was pretty funny.
Again to encourage writing, we've been "capturing" rules. T and S have started making their own rings of spelling, punctuation, and grammar rules. The KotU albums suggest that the guide create "rule" cards the children can reference when they are writing. I thought about doing this, but I figured it could be more worth my time to point out rules we find in the classroom during our normal course of study, suggest that they "capture" this rule on a note card and help them put it on their binder ring. This way, the children are writing more, looking out for rules to capture, and by writing are internalizing, memorizing, and understand the rule better. I think at some point I might need to laminate these, or at least get those silly stickers with the holes in them.
This is where S decided to hang up our rules.
Note cards have become a bit hit in our classroom. Who knew that lined little pieces of card stock could be so exciting. T is at it again this week writing down his "bits" of information for his tornado research report. (I wrote more about this project here and how we are tackling the writing part with a boy who doesn't like to write.) We are looking over the data he collected and making some inferences and generalizations, and recognizing trends. I have visions of pie-charts and bar charts floating in my head! This is T's first introduction to formal data organization and there is SOOO much to learn. (I loved my statistics class in graduate school.) So I am trying to dial it down a bit for a second-grader and help him produce something that is simple but informative.

In this shot, T is "capturing" his bits on a binder ring and hanging his report on the wall.

And that is what we got into the first part of the week! 


  1. I'm glad to see we are not the only ones with a "kid camera" in our school. My kids take a pic of anything they are proud of or anything they want to take apart before I've looked at it but they know I want to see. Kal-El mostly takes pictures of grammar sentences he analyzes while I'm working with Me Too but wants to put away before I'm DONE working with Me Too. Handy.

    We've been using a lot of note cards lately too. In our case it's with the history question charts. Good job with the rules on rings. The AAS cards come with all the rules on cards already so I just use those. We are going to start the personal dictionaries and post-it system soon.

    Do they ever take their nanoblock creations apart?

    You've got to physically separate the sandpaper letters into groups. Call each group a "level" and tell D that some levels are "locked" and can only be "unlocked" when he masters a group. Only if you decide to limit that is. "Unlocking levels" always works with my boys.

    I've been reorganizing the school and making materials, and bringing up materials from the basement for days. Planned out the rest of this year and am trying to get prepared for the start of NEXT year so there is no "lag" at the beginning of the year. I've determined that we are about 9 weeks behind where I wanted to be. Four weeks of that are from the month of December when I was so sick. The rest of the weeks are just the kids doing "big projects" all. the. time. Then we never get to certain things. For the remaining eight weeks of the school year the boys are getting an extra dose of school in the afternoon, Abbie-style. I'M exhausted but they seem to be fine.

  2. Kids love the kid-camera. They've up-graded actually due to an accidental purchase. I have usually seen what they have done, but they are so excited about their creation, they NEED to document it. I am starting to steer them toward a bit more academic photography, like documenting the opening of an amaryllis bud, or the germination and first leaves of a bean plant, or something related to a report...

    HISTORY CHARTS!!! YEAY!!! do share your progress in this area. I know that I, and probably many others would love to see how these are really used and see them fired up an in action. (Of course only if you can capture that on the mom-camera.)

    We use AAS, but I haven't blogged about it yet. The kids don't use the boxes and the cards much. It is more for my reference. So I read them the spelling rules and they "capture it", as in write it down in their own words, and put it on their rule ring. This was an effort to get everyone writing a bit more. We are starting off slowly, writing more bits here and writing more bits there. Plus I didn't really want to make the rule cards like the albums suggest if I could help it.

    THANK YOU for that reminder to group the sandpaper letters. I think that could work with D. T and S's traditional Montessori classroom did it this way, duh. Not remembering here.

    No, they don't take the Nanoblock creations apart, and the keep the instructions and the box intact. I figure that at some point, I'll break them down put them in ziplocs and put them back in their boxes.

    Weeks of afternoon sessions tires me out but, the kiddos always seem better than fine. They seem more focused and enthusiastic in fact.

  3. I took pictures of the history charts in action today. I think my thought process has them bound up with Writing with Ease though, so I'll have to do some thinking in order to spit that post out. My brain is funny that way. I don't compartmentalize well.

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