Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Where Do the Hours Go?

Where do the hours in the day go? Lately I've been trying to focus on one thing at a time. My mind is always racing, with oh, I forgot to...I need to...I will...and the more I try to remember the more I forget. So no more. I'll have a pad of paper in my back pocket and a pencil in my ponytail, and that will be the extent of my double-tasking. If I remember something I'll write it down. I will put my planner book, cell phone and ipad away, and just write. Or just read. Or just name it. And THEN I will do the next, you name it. One at a time. Is there any other way to do it with neanderthal linear thinking brains? 
So, what have we been up to? Here is a very small bit of it all: starting with bead chains. And lots and lots of them. D is a little young to be going through this sequence, but this is where I like that Montessori is flexible. He really likes number symbols. He likes counting things, in this case beads. A lot. I've just figured out that I did these bead chains a bit out of order, but I was augmenting his number name memorization with another resource so my mind got switched around a bit. Anyway, usually one starts with the hundred chain and then proceeds on to the thousand chain right away before starting the bead chains. There are bead chains for the squares and cubes of 1-10. These bead chain works help reinforce physical quantity, linear counting, number recognition, skip counting, multiples, squaring and cubing, and probably a bunch of other things I am forgetting at the moment. So, we started with workbook pages. Oh, no, we started with the tens and teen boards and beads. THEN D really wanted to continue counting so we got into the workbooks. This was around the time when I started pushing down on that "need-to-know-your-math-facts" button with T and S and D needed workbook work at that time too. So he got a counting workbook. And then he finished that in a flash and he wanted another counting workbook and another one. I think he paused after three. Anyway, after all that number symbol recognition work, he was super excited to count beads. So he started counting and counting and counting. Above he has out the square and cube chains of 3. The children use color coded tickets to mark multiples. And you can see that he puts the squares and cubes above the quantities the correlate.
Here he labeled the cube chain of 4.
He completed the square chain of 7. He always says the numbers up and down the chain a bunch of times after counting.
And here is the cube chain of 5. He needed a little bit of help once he reached 99. He's been saying 100 after 99 for months now, but when he came the 100th bead, S had to help him out a bit.
Then he figured out that you could make shapes with the chains. He started making a stair with the 8 chain, but then figured out that he didn't have enough bars to make all of the edges. Then, by himself, he figured out that he needed the 10 square chain. I think he had stars on the brain because of the Land of Israel work we had been doing for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
And finally, we are at the thousand chain. (And it isn't yet Christmas time! S got to this work just as we were packing to leave for Mexico last year. Great timing. D's timing this year is a bit better.) D is just shy of 4.5 years old and the album suggests that he should be about 5 when doing this work. BUT, D didn't do the collective golden bead exercises before this work which is what most children do. We are a tiny bit behind on that sequence, you'll see where we are below, but D started this whole math thing earlier than most children. Like 3.75 years. And he hasn't stopped since. He just really likes numbers and we are going with it. So anyway, the thousand chain is what you see above. It extends from our classroom down the hallway and into the boys' room.
First D and I put the tickets in order. Or rather, D put them in order and I helped organize it a bit here and there. I just love shots with that concentration face.
Here we are putting the blue tens tickets in "hundred families." They were a big mess but D got it under control and put them all together. I think it helps that he is a pattern finder.
I rarely post out-of-focus pictures, but I had to share this one. This is his "I-am-super-happy-face" he makes with the fingers to the mouth. This was his face when he finished putting all the tickets in order.
Also another exhibit of jubilation. I'll try to remember to post pictures of the finished thousand chain when we get to that point.
So, we are about mid-way through the introduction to the golden-beads work. I suspect that we'll start the collective exercises very soon (all of the operations with the golden beads.) Here I got a golden bead quantity with four different categories (thousands, hundreds, tens and units) and D retrieved the appropriate number cards. Next up is the change game.
While I am on D, I'll share that he did some writing. This is "ee" on his chalk boards. I encourage him to vary the size of his writing. He is definitely a lefty now, and all the time, when it comes to writing!
This is "pumpkin." He did this spontaneously.

D is also reading. I think I already mentioned that here on the blog, but I can say it again as a very proud parent. Here he is reading single word cards and matching them with pictures. I made these word cards as part of the Pink Blue and Green series. (We don't "do" PBG, but these cards came in handy.) I think he chose to share them with his sister who figured out that you can make a pretty hexagon with the addition snake game beads. 

The thing that is so interesting to me is that S started out with no confidence reading. Zero confidence. D is very very confident, but doesn't like reviewing sounds and doesn't like the sandpaper letters at all. He doesn't read just because he wants to yet. S did this all the time. If there was a single stationary word in front of her she was all about sounding that out. D ignores all words unless you say, "I want to "tell" you something," and you write that something down on a piece of paper. T took no time to explode into reading short stories. S took FOREVER to start reading more than one word at a time. I wonder what D will do.
 S is working on the grade 2 Daily Math Word problems...
And T is working on the grade 3 Daily Math Word problems. I think that this was a sequencing problem and he needed a bit of help with this one. All of the other ones in this book are pretty easy for him. I pulled back from the Challenge Math book since he wasn't being consistent with it. Not sure why. Sometimes he could do a set of word problems independently no problem. Other times I needed to take 45 minutes to PULL it out of him. And that was a simple money addition problem. So we rolled back for a bit.
S has been doing the addition snake game to practice math facts. I think I posted about this earlier, so if you are looking for more info use the search box or labels below.
 T is continuing with the racks and tubes division...
 And the bank game as a review.
And sometimes D helps him out with getting number cards. I have to say that D's work with T has really helped him recognize thousands, hundreds, tens and units.
And sometimes D is less than helpful.

Somehow S slipped into some plant classification. Not quite sure I remember how this happened, but here we are talking about angiosperms and gymnosperms and she is writing it all down. We used the Montessori R&D classification books we have and the internet to look up how to classify an amaryllis.
Here she looking at a picture of an angiosperm.
Then she wanted to classify a sunflower. It is my aim to help her create a collection of these classifications and then encourage her to draw parallels between the different types of plant species she knows.
Maybe this is a bit of Twister and a bit of US geography? S has only 6 states more to learn.
And finally, one of the big reasons I am not blogging much anymore is that I've been making Catechesis of the Good Shepherd materials. I am not opening my own atrium and I presently serve in a fully stocked atrium so these materials are for me and for my personal formation as a catechist. I find that when I do, I understand. So I am making all sorts of things and the kids are just overjoyed to get to do atrium work at home. T, S and D would probably want to spend three hours a day in the atrium but we only get 2 hours a week. Above, are the liturgical colors (chasuble) tracing cards.
Here D is doing a liturgical colors pasting work. There is a liturgical colors lesson that goes with this tracing and pasting extension work. D received this lesson in the atrium.

All three like singing the song that goes along with the liturgical colors and I think that besides the word "one-hundred" D's second favorite word is "Pentecost."
This is another liturgical colors work that also goes along with the raised surface map of Israel as it was during the time of Jesus.

And this is a liturgical calendar coloring work that D did half correctly. He hasn't had this lesson yet, but he took this paper from a stack I had elsewhere and I didn't have a control he could take with it. So, the feasts should be white, except Pentecost, which is red, the times of preparation are purple and the times of growing and resting are green. He figured out that the calendar kind of looks like it has a nose, so he drew in eyes, a mouth (11 Sundays worth of ordinary time) and two arms; one holding bread, and the other wine.
S found our rosary pamphlet and since we had been talking about Mary and the rosary this month in CCD, she decided to pray an entire rosary with the Joyful Mysteries. That is her praying expression, not her "I-have-a-stomach-ache" expression.
And finally, I've been working with the colored pencils. These are part of the Altar items tracing card sets. Next up, I get back to the power tools to make some dioramas. Fun!
T volunteered to play goalie last Sunday. I was surprised since he's had no coaching on this position, ever. Next Sunday is his last fall ball day, and after that, we hope that he'll get onto the local tournament team that plays in December, and he'll do winter ball clinic before starting spring league in February. S is keeping up with the tennis and the flute. She has a first very very informal recital this weekend. And D hasn't yet decided whether he wants to participate in his soccer games. He has another couple of weeks left in the fall season and after that he starts spring soccer in February.

And finally, I'll leave you with a picture of T playing goalie last Sunday. Have a great week!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Reviewing with the Olders

Still reviewing past works. Still in total pause on new topics. Still trying to cultivate and encourage focus, rhythm, and forward momentum. Maybe by Christmas we'll be ready to move forward.

I thought that the kids would be totally bored reviewing and doing works that they've already done for literally years, but they seem pretty content for the moment. 

Here is a tiny peek at what we've been doing during school time.
T is slowly working through the problems for the racks and tubes. We left off last year doing most of the long division math; estimating how many distributions we could make, multiplying what was distributed, subtracting this from what was available to be given out, and finding the remainder. But last year the process was long and hard. T is STILL now working on math facts. He knows most of them okay, but it just takes a while to work the brain. Still this year, things are going more smoothly. Except, he doesn't remember at all what he is doing. He doesn't remember dividend, divisor, or quotient. He doesn't remember remainder, or which quantity is what we have to give out, what we gave out and how much we have left. He can move the beads around just fine and get a right answer. He can even move around the beads and do all the math and get a right answer. But he can't verbalize the process AT ALL.
The speed at which we unpack the brain and get a definition or description out...ugh.That problem next to problem 8 took us 90 minutes. I sat next to him the entire time, meanwhile not giving anyone else a lesson. We are reviewing every day. And probably will everyday for a long, long, long while.
S and T have been working on their math facts. S is still working on addition and subtraction. T is on to multiplication. Wow, this would have been easier if they had done this at D's age. 

This memorization is an entirely different thread we work on every single day. Knowing your math facts, makes all advanced math works so much easier. The child may have a prayer of being able to explain what they are doing with the decimal fraction board if they aren't bogged down with 8+7. 
 They quiz each other.
S is revisiting the bead chains. To avoid the skip counting plague, she gathers up the tickets, picks one randomly and places it along the chain, noting how many 9s are in 63. 
Then she chose to write out the multiples of 9, and then to diminish the skip counting tendency, she wrote out each multiplication problem, 9*1 = 9...etc.
For further addition facts practice, S is finally using the large bead frame for addition problems. Here she is adding in to the millions and carrying.

Another place we are doing a lot of review is grammar. No one seems to remember what a noun is. Really. And then if they remember it is a person place or thing, they don't remember that there are plural nouns, collective nouns, abstract nouns, concrete nouns, proper nouns, or common nouns. 

Here T is doing workbook work. (They are Seaton Homestudy books.) Yes, I've resorted to workbook work. It is for review, the kids like doing workbook work (perhaps because they don't get to very often,) it frees up my time to work with someone else since it is super self-guided, and because we use the workbook pages to enhance other work. Here T is writing the definitions of different types of nouns, in his own words, on a separate paper. He has a single paper where he is collecting all of his noun related definitions. Some of these definitions are from the Montessori noun boxes, some are from these Seaton books, some are from the Montessori noun extension exercises and cards, and some are from our Spectrum Language Arts book.

S is collecting her noun related definitions in this tiny journal booklet.
S has also chosen to delve into a bit of geography. Here she made a pile of the states she knows. This way we don't have 50 random states all over the place and a mess that is confusing. She names the state and takes it out of the frame. Then she names another state and takes that out of the frame. After she has taken out all the states she knows, she refers to the control map and takes out just two that she doesn't know to "learn these." Then she puts back all of the states she knows, trying to remember the two new states. She proceeds in this manner until she has mastered all of them.
She is also working on the continent of Africa using the same process.
T is working on our artist folders. This one is from our American artists set. I purchased half of our American set from the Montessori Print Shop and I made the other half since there were a lot of famous artists (or rather favorites of mine) that were missing. I also augmented our European set as well.

Here he has Mary Stevenson Cassatt. He has our folder of artist works and our two art activity/reference books: Discovering Great Artists: Hands on Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters  and Great American Artists for Kids: Hands on Art Experiences for Children in the Styles of the Great American Masters both by MaryAnn F. Khol and Kim Solga.
I left it up to T to decide what to include in the artist report write-up. These were the things he chose to include for Mary Cassatt. I think he added to this report the day after when he wrote up his report for Georgia O'Keeffe. 
Here is his Georgia O'Keeffe write up. We'll be working to include a little more descriptive emotion in the coming weeks. And there are some really cool art activities in the books we hope to explore that help the children understand the style and methods each artist use to express themselves.
Since we are a private school and we didn't cut our arts budget, we do music as well as art appreciation. S has taken to sounding out all of her flute pieces on the bells and the tone bars. 
And then she also "writes" the notes on the green boards. Now that I look at this, I haven't a clue what she was trying to do. She can read music, so she isn't putting stuff up there randomly. But I have no idea what this piece was.

There is always more to our school days than you see here. This is just a taste of all that does, and then again, doesn't, happen during our days. And now I am signing off and to help S practice her flute.

Have a great weekend!!