Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An Official Start?

Does a First Great Lesson confirm that we've officially started school? 

Three kids, three sets of goggles, and one volcano. This kind of reminds me of this picture from last year. 
Same lesson: the first Great Lesson, God with No Hands.
Visit this post for more on this lesson. 

The "new thing" I learned this year was why these Great Lessons are so important. I think of the Great Lessons as the spine of the Montessori curriculum. It defines the backbone of the beast, so to speak. The guide fills in with key lessons here and there where there is interest. Many times these key lessons connect to the backbone/the Great Lessons. I think of these key lessons as the major bones in the skeleton, like the skull, the rib cage, the pelvis, the femur, etc. Then it is the child's work is to continue fleshing out the parts of the body that interest them. Through their personal exploration they figure out all of the muscles, tendons, vessels, skin, and hair. They work to flesh out the rest of the animal so that at long last, they can see the entire beast with the intimate knowledge of how it all fits together.
We call this a cute, short, 4-year old in his mime pants with goggles on. (He doesn't mime, he just looks like one in these pants. They are 2T. He is a small guy.)
S has been rattling right along with the grammar sequence. I wrote about this last week too. Last week is was the verb boxes and this week it is the preposition. She finished all four preposition boxes today. Next it is the adverb. And then I think we should start using the grammar command cards I finally made! This older post has my old preposition lesson and my old verb lesson explanation.

If the preposition symbol should be like a bridge, why does the Montessori Outlet tray for all of our grammar solids hold this one upside down? Maybe this is why we had it turned upside down two years ago when T did this lesson!

S also worked on some Daily Math Problems. She is in book 2 for 2nd graders. I first wrote about these books here and then again here.
T got a new book I randomly picked up at a half price book store. It was a geography text that revolves around Garfield, his new favorite character. He spent most of today working on this. He used encyclopedias and an atlas to find his answers so it turned out to be a great researching exercise. He is also pretty good at geography to begin with which helped a lot, since this book is not easy. He was able to tell me the names of all of the states you see above without looking at a map.

D also got in on a little book action doing his mazes. What you see in the background is a little something I throw up there on occasion to keep D reading. He read this without incident. He is just so proud when he decodes a word. It is just really cute to see.

I separate the cursive letters because he seems to get confused when I link them together. He manages to read print just fine.
We also did some biological classification booklet reading today. I wrote more about this set of booklets here and here. Today, we got through three of the five classes of vertebrates before D wanted to pull out some additional materials like our life-cycle figures and his frog puzzle to match them all and name them all.
D and I finally got to the thermic tablets as well. I didn't get a shot of the entire layout though. This material is from Montessori Outlet.
Typically a prerequisite for this lesson would be the thermic bottles. We don't have these. They were the one material I decided not to purchase and just skip all together. This material consists of six pairs of tablets made of different substances which differ in the way they conduct heat. Our box contains: cork, felt, metal, slate, glass, and wood. 

Initially I opened the box and took out a single felt tablet. I placed it on the table and then I rubbed my wrists together to neutralize them. Then I lightly placed one wrist on the felt tablet for a moment. Then I removed a single metal tablet and placed it on the table too. I rubbed my wrists together again and then felt the metal tablet with my wrist for a moment. I mentioned that the metal one felt cool and the felt one felt warm. I invited D to rub his wrists to neutralize them and then to feel each of the tablets. 

After this I removed each of the tablets and placed on them on the table in an arc pattern. (I did not use a table mat because the work is too large for our mats. Also, typically there is a small bowl that accompanies this work and it is placed at the top of the arc. This bowl is used to hold our jewelry. I didn't do this step but rather simply removed my watch before the presentation.)

I put on our owl blind fold, neutralized my wrists and proceeded to feel the first, lowest, tablet on the left side of the arc with my left wrist. Then I felt the first tablet on the right side with my right wrist. If they felt like a match, I placed the tablets together and moved them to the center of the arc. If they weren't a match, I moved my right wrist to the next tablet up the arc feeling each tablet in turn until I found a match. I continued this process, rubbing my wrists in between pairings until all of the tablets were matched and then I removed my blindfold to check for accuracy.

The next lesson in this sequence would be a language 3-period lesson, distance matching, and a material identification game. 

This material helps the child develop their tactile and visual discrimination.

D was able to take a turn with the tablets and was very successful with this exercise as well.
D and I did some more category card work. I asked him to fetch "one-hundred" and he went and got that card and brought it to me. We verified that it was the right card and then he brought it back to the rug and returned to be told to fetch another. He was pretty successful with this exercise. I wrote more about this primary math sequence here.

As always he is into books.
Before we did the biological classifications, D took out some other life cycle materials. He said our lady bug set was his favorite.
Here D is working with his stereognostic bag. There are a bunch of different pairs of wooden shapes in the bag. He sticks his hand in selects one, pulls it out, and sets it on the table. Then he sticks his hand in again and without the use of sight feels which one in the bag is its match, pulls this out of the bag and sets it by its pair on the table. He was very successful with this exercise. I wrote more about this here. This work helps the child refine their sense of touch.

This is the early reading bit we should have done first. This is our object box 1. I, the guide, write down a word that represents one of the objects, let D sound it out, either aloud or in his head, and then he can say it, or simply match the object with the paper ticket. Independent work could include pre-written tickets and the objects so that the child can read and match whenever they choose.
This was more of his card-work I wrote about here.

On Monday, S found this outside. We suspect it is a dragon fly wing, though it was not connected to any insect. She went inside got some gloves on, got her forceps and a container, and got to work collecting her sample.

Then she got out the slides and the microscope to examine her specimen up close. 
She also opened up her "lab-notebook" and drew an illustration of what she saw. I will note that she has not confirmed that these were indeed from a dragonfly. She saw no immediate need to look up what dragonfly wings actually look like to verify her hypothesis.
This was actually accidental. I had printed out these songs (from this site) intending to introduce them a bit later, but T got his hands on them, write the note names under each note, got a crash-course on rhythm from me in 5 minutes, and was off to the races. So far, he's memorized Twinkle Twinkle, Ode to Joy and Kookaberra. The Kookaberra song has way different lyrics than the ones I learned. I learned it like this:

Kookaberra sitting in the old gum tree, 
eating all the gum that he can see,
Stop, kookaberra, stop,
Kookaberra save some gum for me.

T likes my version better.

Because of her flute work S understands more about note names than she's had Montessori bells lessons. So I am trying to catch her up a tiny bit, make sure she knows some intermediary nomenclature, and can get a little ahead of her lessons so that she can focus on breathing and form rather than reading music.
S started with a staff nomenclature lesson: g-clef, lines, spaces, staff, and ledger lines. This lesson  came after she assigned note names to all the bell, a - g. The next lesson will be to name the notes on the staff board.
And we can end with a little bit of cuteness. D is too young to start lacrosse, but he isn't too young to try on all of hyung-a's gear and pose for the camera with his littler fiddle stick and soft ball.


  1. Congrats on the great lesson presentation and start of the new school year! I am still procrastinating! Guess I should do it and get it over with! Love the mime pants! Cute!

  2. Oh, what a wonderful start to your school year!!! :) I love the Life Cycle sets and plan on getting every single one by the end of our year :)

  3. Love the plugged noses in the picture. It's appropriate because one of the boys' strongest Yellowstone memories is the smell of sulfur at the thermal sites. In their minds volcanic activity=smell. Love the world's tinies lacrosse player.

    1. You should see the little guy in his soccer cleats and shin pads. His cleats end before they start. And his shin pads, I think are less than the length of my hand, palm to finger tips. :)