Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Begin Again

We are slowly transitioning from summer activities to fall ones. 

The last month has been filled with sick kid syndrome. And all of our appointments have been pushed to this week. S and D started working already, even though D and T are still recovering. So for now, it is easy in the classroom and I am gearing up for the Great Lessons, fall sports, flute and Catachesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS.) How are your fall plans coming along?

There was a week a small bit ago that S and D got in the classroom with out a camera available to document their work. In that time, D did some golden bead work, decimal card work, and writing work, and S did some Large Bead Frame, grammar work, and tone bar work. I'll recap these earlier lessons as we go along.
D got the first decimal card lesson last week. This lesson comes after the an introduction to the Golden Beads and he already knows how to identify and count out and name varying quantities, like 7,432. He would say, "7 thousands, 4 hundreds, 3 tens and 2 units." (Now that I look at this I notice that we are usually keen to name whole number quantities without the "and" since in the elementary decimal fraction sequence, we use the "and" to denote a decimal. 2.31 would be two and thirty one hundredths. Do we not care here about the "and" since the child says "3-tens" instead of "thirty" and would we wait until the latter is the norm to introduce simply "thirty-two?")

So, here D is laying out the decimal card material that accompanies the golden beads. He is naming each card as he lays it down. "One unit, two units, three units, etc." When he first started he noticed that the cards were not in order and said he had to arrange them first.

This material is a set of color-coded cards with a set of green unit cards, 1-9, a set of blue tens cards, 10-90, a set of red hundred cards, 100-900, and a set of green thousand cards, 1000-9000. Note that these thousand cards do not include commas. These cards are all stored in a wooden box and ours are from Montessori Outlet. The sizes of the cards are incremental as well. The unit cards are shorter than the tens cards which are shorter than the hundred cards and so on.

In the first presentation, we use only the 1, 10, 100, and 1000 cards. At the top right of the mat I placed the green unit card 1, and said "one unit." To the left of this card, I placed the blue ten card 10, and said, "this is ten. Let's count how many zeros are in ten. One." To the left of this card, I placed the red hundred card 100, and said, "this is one hundred. Let's count how many zeros are in one hundred. One, two." To the left of this card, I placed the green thousand card 1000, and said, "this is one thousand. Let's count how many zeros are in one thousand. One, two, three." Then we proceeded with the 2nd period lesson, still counting the zeros in each category. 

Before this presentation the child must have an understanding of quantities, the numbers 1-10, recognition of the numerical symbols 1-9 and 0, the ability to order numbers in succession, as well as an introduction to the golden bead material.

After a first introduction, D wanted to lay out the rest of the card material, and counted each category while doing so. The next exercise will be fetching cards from a single category. Eventually we will be assigning number symbols/cards to golden bead quantities. This work typically is introduced to a child around 4.5 years of age after the introduction to the golden bead material. D has been very interested in numbers lately, and is a bit younger, at 4 years and 2 months.
S got her hands on some grammar card materials. Here she is working on the fourth verb filler box and she noticed that there was a statement card missing from the set. (I re-made all of the grammar card materials based upon a set I had purchased from Montessori Print Shop. Since the material is so complex, there always seem to be cards missing from various boxes. But the children catch my mistakes, and make cards to create full sets.) The filler boxes (the empty box on the left) contain statement cards and color coded word cards. S found that there were three extra word cards that could be made into sentences. This was the last time that S worked with the grammar materials.

The KotU albums suggest that the child finish these grammar boxes before they turn 8. Manipulating cards begins to feel cumbersome to children at this age. Unlike her older brother, S may actually finish this material by then.
D decided to start reading today. He took out some sandpaper letters and started making words and sounding them out. He ended up switching sounds around and sounding out those words too. Here he has built the word "stick-y" but phonetically, so it looks like "stic-ee." He was very, very, very pleased with himself.

I showed him the moveable alphabet again and he was able to find all the symbols to build the word "sticky" once more. And we were very proud of ourselves again. 
Picking up on D's want to de-code, I remembered that the KotW primary albums suggested object boxes and single word cards as a first stepping stone toward the goal of total reading. I wasn't expecting D to want to start reading for another couple of months so I was completely unprepared. The albums do suggest that children start their introduction to reading at about 4.5 years of age and this is after much writing work with the moveable alphabet, chalkboards, and paper. 

D hasn't really started writing yet. Well, he can form a few letter symbols, but we totally missed that sensitive period for the sandpaper letters and so he never developed easily that muscle memory, nor the inclination to write effortlessly. And here he is, sounding out nonsense words, six letters long, by himself. So, we are getting this little guy into reading for now.

I haven't put together a CVC object box for him yet, so I quickly pulled these "pink-series" rhyming cards out of a storage bin and he got to work. There were a few letter symbols he didn't know yet, like "g," but he sounded out and blended all of the words on his own, matched them with their picture, and was very, very, very proud of himself. Who knew? (The summer before we started our homeschooling two years ago I made an entire set of pink and blue card materials. I purchased the green materials from Montessori R&D because I had had enough. I never imagined that they would come in handy one day.)

This is one very proud reader.

Oh, and by the way, my camera isn't broken. (This is just an example of how much I know about photography which is next to nil.) The motor in my zoom lens is broken, not the camera itself. So I'll just need to focus that one manually. The indoor fast lens I use for the blog is just fine, as is the camera body. I am so glad that we don't need to spend money on a camera when we are paying for a new roof.


  1. Abbie,

    The teens/tens boards are for introducing that terminology - I much prefer to wait until simply saying the quantity in each category is so intuitive that the naming of them is simply an exercise in "here is another name" --- I want that categorizing to be SO internalized ;) I don't say the "and" for the units, but if the children say it, I have never corrected them.

    And he is totally writing if he is putting sounds together!!!! ;) Does not have to be paper/pencil to be writing ;)

  2. So, keep on the 3-tens route until it is second nature, and then introduce, "here is another name of this quantity, thirty" later? This makes sense.

    And thanks for that reminder about the writing. :) You got me back on the right track again. When do you usually see this "silent" reading coming about? All of my children have read aloud before they learned to read silently. Does the silent reading come only after the more traditional Montessori sequence is followed, sandpaper letters, lots of writing, and THEN a proper introduction to reading?

  3. Many children intuitively read aloud - it is what we do with them throughout their childhoods ;)

    But the adult expectation of it really doesn't need to begin until elementary or they are very confident in their reading skills.

    So - they CAN read aloud or silently - but we don't expect reading aloud until older ;) Now, inviting them to read something silently and do what it says before saying what it says - that is a good skill to practice!

    1. Ahhh, expectations are everything no?

      And you are SCARY fast replying. :)

    2. Totally unrelated Jessica, do you have a blog, or any written articles that are your own about CGS? I am just beginning my training and am feeling kind of throw in to the cave with the wolves at the moment, needing to get ready to assist/serve in a full class this fall. Any other written assistance, esp. from you, would be most helpful in forming this Catechist!

    3. I can be scary fast - and sometimes scary slow ;) hehe

    4. CGS - what I have right now is

      Scroll through past topics on there; let me know if there is a topic of interest you'd like to see. ;)

    5. Awesome, I will take a look, thanks.

  4. My boys called things "4 tens" "5 tens" or "1 ten, 3 units" for a VERY VERY long time (you know how pedantic I am) and it worked out beautifully. The categorization is super internalized, in fact they will still sometimes say "five tens" instead of fifty when they are calculating as opposed to reading numbers.

    Just unpacked a box from Kid Advance. Nothing too exciting. A geometric cabinet for more iron material storage and the two boxes of cubes for volume. I ordered the "premium" because they were the same price as the "economy" for some reason. The 2 cm cubes are wood. The 1 cm cubes are white plastic. The box has a lid AND a door on it. I find I can NOT open the door on the 1 cm cubes without them spilling out all over. I'm considering taping it shut or putting a rubber band around it. Can you open the door on yours without spillage?

    I took out the table saw and some scraps of 2x4 and ripped them down to size to make a stand so I could stack the two geometric cabinets now. My first geo cabinet has six drawers. It already has a lot of the "iron material" in it... fraction circles, fraction triangles, fraction squares, and one drawer is empty. I think the rest of the new iron materials will fit in the seven drawers I have remaining. My old botany cabinet has most of the drawers from the geometry cabinet in it. I put the circle drawer away because I don't think we need that anymore and that way it all fit. I did all that a couple years ago. I figure if I need a bunch of circles I can grab the concentric circles box instead.

    I guess you'll be busy putting together an object box tonight. Fun! I loved that stage.

    Yeah! Hey! I was going to say, the moveable alphabet IS writing. I thought that is what they meant by an explosion into writing! D wants credit given where credit is due!

    Gotta go back in the classroom and work getting the shelves ready some more.

    1. I think I knew that about your boys that they said "4-tens" for a really really long time. S ended up doing this too. I am not sure when they are supposed to transition to 40.

      I've never gotten anything from Kid Advance. No I lie, maybe I got my farm from there. And now it is good to know that the volume cubes are there too. I figured out that I have the 1cm cubes for the pink tower and the prisms for the brown stair, not the ones in the volume containers with the hinges on them. So I am sorry that I can't speak to opening the box without spillage. I'd imagine that this isn't how it is supposed to work because the similiar boxes for the binomial and trinomial cubes don't let the contents spill all over when you open those. I also thought that both materials, the 1cm and the 2cm were supposed to be wood, no?

      You love stacking your cabinets like that. I just make custom shelf sizes to fit my cabinets.

      Just put together the object box and D didn't want to have anything to do with it. He was a bit cranky today.

      D IS writing, just not a lot and not without a ton of encouragement. I thought the explosion into writing was when the child all of a sudden wants to write everything and anything spontaneously. I could be wrong. This is what S wanted to do, everyday, for a bit two years ago.

      Are you planning to do a classroom tour this year?

    2. I think they are supposed to be wood. I didn't check the description well enough I guess.

      I don't have enough shelf space for the cabinets and if I don't stack them they'll take up the whole window seat.

      Tell D I'm cheering for him.

      I likely will do a classroom tour as I think things have finally changed enough again to warrant it. It probably won't be for a month though.