Friday, August 28, 2015

Getting a Groove

Or maybe it is a little early for that yet. I still have light expectations in the classroom at this time. We'll see how the children respond to new topics, added materials, and different key lessons this year. Our other activities haven't started yet, so it still remains to be seen how we will really flow along.
D got the first bells lesson. This is the matching lesson after first lesson when we show the child how to strike a bell and use the damper. D probably could have started this work earlier, but alas, he was too short to reach the bells cabinet well. (It is 19" inches high.)

This material consists of two sets of 13 bells in the chromatic scale from middle c to c. The bells bases are brown, white, or black. Our mallets and damper came with the set. You can purchase the boards which are green, black and white that go under the bells. I chose to make a felt underlay. I also custom made our bells cabinet. It is 5' long, and about 18" deep and it stands about 19" high. Our bells and other purchased materials are from Nienhuis.

In this initial lesson, we carefully moved all of the brown bells to his low table. Then we matched them. He would strike a brown bell, remember its tone and then walk to the white bells (or hop in his case) and find the matching tone. He was able to do this very successfully. (To move these bells, we place the dominant hand fingers at the base of the stem, and the subdominant palm supports the bell base from underneath. Skin should never touch the metal part of the bells as this can impart oils onto the metal which will change the pitch of the bell.)
When we were replacing the brown bells they got mixed up, so he systematically graded them, or in other words, reordered them by ear. His middle-c, d, and e were all in the right places, so by the time he got to what should have been f, he could hear that it didn't follow. So we pushed aside the "wrong tone" and played up the scale again, middle-c, d, e, and then the next bell in line, which also happened to be incorrect as well. He repeated the process and in the end successfully ordering the bells in graded order and than finally played up and then down the bells.

I first posted about our bells here and I posted about giving D his very first bells lesson at the end of this post here. 

This is our mystery bag by Guide Craft. I wrote more about this work here.

D decided to a little bit of work with the blue triangles. No lesson was given here.
S finally go into the grammar command cards. I think that she enjoyed them. Perhaps she was a little slowed down by the owner of that knee you see in the shot above. D decided that he was going to help her out. 

Here they are working with the first adjective task card packet. (All of our grammar card materials are from Montessori Print Shop in the traditional colors. I re-formatted all of the word cards you see, but the command/task cards are in their original format.) A card like the one in the shot above may say, "Pick your favorite color tab hue, lay out the set in graded order, and label it with the cards." The cards included in this exercise could be, "darkest, dark, lightest, light." 

Command/task cards give children a physical experience of both classification of the parts of speech as well as antonyms and synonyms. Grammar boxes (the ones with all of the colorful compartments) give the child a questioning perception of the parts of speech as they sort each word in the sentence and classify them. Permutations, which are hard to post here on the blog, are when we take the word cards in the filler boxes and switch them around: "dogs lay down" becomes "down lay dogs." These exercises help the child understand the order of words in our language affects meaning.

Command cards are usually worked along side the grammar boxes.

This was another grammar command card.
S also did some angle measuring, adding and subtracting. I first wrote about this lesson here.
T did a bit more squaring. I didn't get shots of all of the complete sequence since my camera card ran out of space. (I need to get a new hard drive, since my other one crashed onto the floor and completely broke, so I can dump the pictures on the card to make more space!)

We ended up reviewing exercise 4: Using Graph Paper, and exercise 5: the Binomial Square Expressed Algebraically  in the Transforming a Square lesson sequence, before moving on to the three Passing from One Square to Another exercises, all of which T found ridiculously easy. 

This lesson comes after this one. 

In this lesson we begin using graph paper to prolong the child's work in this area. First we'd do this exercise with a binomial. In this exercise T has moved on to the trinomial square. Above, T colored in, 92 = 12 + 2(1*3) + 2(1*5) + 32+ 2(3*5) + 52, or (a+b+c)2 = a2+ 2(ab) + 2(ac) + b2 + 2(bc) + c2Then he expressed all of the terms algebraically. All of the squares are on the diagonal and in every binomial there are 4 terms and in every trinomial there are 9 terms.

T can and should, though he probably will not, choose to draw other binomials and trinomials on his own as follow-up work. This work gives the child experience with squaring and is preparation for working with square roots.

The album suggests that early work for this lesson start at 7-71/2 but it also notes that age is not as important as experience in this case. The scope an sequence suggests that this lesson be introduced in the 2nd year of lower el and finished up in the 3rd year. T is just barely 9 years old. Since we held him back in Primary, T is still doing work as a lower el student this year. So in terms of number age he is "grade behind" behind, but in terms of "grade level" he is more right on target here. 

I'll try to get a few photos of the Passing from One Square to Another before posting about the lessons here.
And D pulled out our equivalency materials and did a little bit of puzzling...and stared off into space.

We'll be back with more! How is your kick-off to the new school year going?

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.