Saturday, November 21, 2015

Little By Little

Is how everything works. Or doesn't in some cases.

We've been doing everything a little and nothing a lot. This includes, sports, gardening, getting ready for Advent, CGS, CCD, flute, other activities, and schooling too.

There is another thing that has been taking a bit of my attention away from this space, and a lot of my computer time. I haven't mentioned it yet, since there wasn't really anything to mention yet. But now after a few recent developments, I can say that I am working with a special group of moms and with our Catholic Diocese to create a new Catholic Montessori school. It is both exciting and a lot of work researching, writing, meeting, touring etc. We are still in the information gathering and business plan development stage, but all of us are prayerfully optimistic that a new school may open its doors if not in the fall, within the next two years. 

The other portion of my computer time has been taken up by this CGS formation course. Goodness a lot of work!! Good and fun and interesting work, but a lot of work.  Right now, I am doing some materials making which as been interesting to say the least. It is most interesting when the kids demand to make their own "you-name-it" along side what ever it is that I am making. Just a couple of quick shots of my work in progress...
This is the raised map of Israel. This one is a mini one. And the falling star isn't quite correct, but a finished map nonetheless.

And an angel out of sculpey for on of the dioramas.

Getting back to the blog, yes, the blog...I have only a very small number of photos to share. I think that we'll return to a more intense schooling schedule after Christmas. Or that is my goal at this point. We are still reviewing everything in every way. And the little guy is getting along well with his reading, writing and math. 
We are very slowly working our way through the Story of the World first book. At this point I am just reading the stories to the kids and not doing many of the follow-up readings, nor the extension activities. I wanted to give them a sense of the sequence and progression of everything. I thought that if we spent a week dwelling on different topics the "story" may seem a bit convoluted. So, this first pass I am reading and they are coloring and then we "talk about the chapter" using the test questions as a guide. They actually like the test questions. The second pass through, I'll pick out particular stories to revisit and we'll spend a bit of time in each of these corners. Then if they'd like they can pick a few stories to examine more closely. And then I am thinking it will be time to move on to the next book. 
S has figured out all the names and locations of all 50 states. Here she is reviewing and quizzing herself again. It has been a couple of weeks since she did this last. I am always thinking, "GET THEM TO REVIEW IT!!" before it falls out of their brains.
T has taken to some zoology classification. Have we done all of the prerequisites in the KotU albums? No. But he seems to have enough language awareness, and general knowledge about different animals, to get the sense that some species are related . He's picked up on the fact that "felidea" refers the cat family and that lions, tigers, and not bears, belong to this cat family and thus may have characteristics and behaviors in common. 

For this project, T made a list of zoo animals and is now looking up the scientific classification of each. Then he plans to construct a chart that illustrates how the classes are related. I figured at this point he would probably want to find other animal species in the classes he had already researched to add to his chart. We'll just see where this project goes. For now, T is having fun making useful connections.
T is reviewing his math facts. Well, all the kids are reviewing basically everything. Here T is re-doing all of the multiplication checkerboard cards. I made sets with 2-digit, 3-digit, and 4-digit multipliers. 

Now, here is the rub. He can do a 2-digit multiplier problem in less than 3 minutes and get the right answer when I am standing over him just watching. When I am not standing right next to him, it takes him more than 10 minutes to do the same problem 2 times getting the wrong answer both times and never getting the right answer. I also find that he is staring out the window for 5 of the 10 minutes. What the...
T is doing some logical analysis here. These are the ETC Montessori 6-9 logical analysis cards.Thanks MBT for the recommendation. He can follow the task cards just fine, he could tell me what the predicate, direct object and indirect object were and he didn't need a review lesson. Again, what the??? We can't remember what a collective noun is, but we can remember all this?
I also assign reading for the older two. I don't know what S is reading in this picture. I do this to encourage a small challenge. T and S read independently and read and read and read and read, and eventually make  D mad because they aren't playing with him. (D is reading short story booklets too, but doesn't yet read everywhere, all the time.) They read in the car, in the stacks at the library, in bed, on the potty, and they try to read at the dinner table. When there are books at the table I say, "less reading, more eating." S has demanded another bookshelf for her bedroom so she can organize her growing book collection. So I don't assign reading to get them to read more, just to read something specific.

I assign only one book at a time. There is never a deadline by which they need to finish it. I ask only minimal questions about the book. I assign books that are only slightly more challenging than something that they'd normally pick up. Usually the book is among the more challenging that they do normally pick up. And the book is usually about a topic that I think is a bit more "worth-while" like a classic or something inter-personal, or novel or creative. There is never any forced reading. I do check in with them to make sure that the book is still something they are interested in and if it isn't, then we switch titles. And I ask them to pick up the book if they are being too rowdy right before dinner time, or we are going on a longer car ride, or someone needs the equivalent of a "time-out" to cool down and regroup. We actually don't do "time-outs." I usually re-direct, or impose a "cool-down" period during which we are suddenly doing something unexpected and fun. Since they actually enjoy reading the "assigned" book, the "time-out" doesn't become a punishment, but just, well a time to cool down and regroup. 

In case you were wondering what I assign, the last books T read were A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, and Lost and Found by Andrew Clements. S recently read Frindle, also by Andrew Clements and Sisters 8: Annie's Adventures by Lauren Baratz-Longsted
S and T have been working on their math facts. Here S is using the addition snake game to work on her addition facts. She isolates the first two bead bars, say, 7-bar and an 8-bar, and adds these two together. 15. Then she gets the black-and-white five bar and a golden 10 bar and uses these to continue rebuilding the "snake." Then she'll add the next two bead-bars together until the entire snake is golden. By isolating the two bead-bars (instead of counting all the beads) she is practicing her addition facts.
S here is working on subtraction with the Large Bead Frame. Since she is still working on math facts, and she didn't do the small bead-frame, we are doing subtraction on the LBF before the multiplication you usually see on the LBF.
Here T is reviewing his plural nouns. We put together a small packet of command cards, or task cards if you will. One reads something like,"make 5 singular and plural noun pairs that use "es" using the farm, and label each noun and take a picture of it with the kid-camera." These are some of what he created...

D is off to the races with the golden beads. Sorry I don't have any pictures of his chubby little hands moving around beads and cards. Somehow he hasn't yet tired of laying out the large number cards. The first time he saw the smaller number cards he said, "wow, those are very small!!" I said that they were and that we'd be using them with the larger number cards. 

I've introduced static addition and static subtraction with the golden beads. Next I plan to introduce the rest of the operations, (*, /) and then somewhere in there introduce dynamic addition, subtraction, etc. 

He doesn't seem at all phased by these operation concepts. He is like, oh, you have some, I have some, we put them together and we get a bigger sum. No big deal. I think this sequence worked the way it was supposed to work. 

D has really mastered the number cards. He names all of the numbers correctly without fail and is able to get the correct number card that corresponds to the quantity he has. I'd say that with almost daily work, he's mastered that symbol-to-quantity connection over about 2 months? Has it been that long? Or maybe it was a little less. I tried to really take our time on this one to make sure he had a strong foundation so that later lessons in the sequence could just roll out smoothly.
I don't know WHY this happens. There are lizards that are getting stuck between our window and the screens. YUCK. They change color too. Double YUCK. I tried to crack the window and push out the screen so it could get out. (It got in through a small hole in the screen.) But the reptile started descending and I didn't want it to get in the house and get lost, so I screamed and slammed the window shut. T laughed his head off. The next day the babysitter opened the window, grabbed it, and put it outside. I guess we pay her well for a reason.
And finally, the kids had a little mustache fun perpetuating a little mustache humor with you-know-who. Here is a good shot of them being silly!

Stay tuned, there is always more!!

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