Saturday, January 7, 2017

Christmas, Flute, CGS and Other On-Goings

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

새해 복 많이 받으세요 or sae hae bok mani badeuseyo! (Happy New Year in Korean.)

  Almost 9 years old! (Can you tell we live in the south? We wear tank-tops in December?)

  About 5 1/2 years old.

About 9 1/2 years old. Where does the time go? (If everyone looks like they were punched in both eyes it is because the kids got up at 2am Christmas morning, and these photos were taken around 10am.)

 I don't even remember when this photo was taken. Did I take this?

This is S's rendition of her flute teacher's little squishy toy, Draco the Dragon. Those are bell pepper slices in her mouth. I think that this little guy helps students remember to do something with their air. (Her teacher has a ton of little figures that help students with a myriad of technique issues.) This is the real dragon toy. You can get it here.


We stitched this little guy up today. Squiggles keeps S's right index finger from resting on the bar and gives her hand a nice arch. That white thing underneath her flute is a thumb port. S is double jointed and this little thing keeps her fingers in alignment. Before resorting to a home-made Squiggles, we tried to find a Beanie Baby, or a Tsum, Tsum that would be the right girth, but nothing fit her small hand. So we just made this little guy out of soft fabric and some googley eyes. He works quite well.

The kids also wrote some Christmas cards to their teachers. We curled them up inside water bottles as "healthier" holiday gifts. The kids took that "healthier" theme pretty seriously.

 And CGS materials. Oh, CGS materials. I thought I was out of the woods when it came to making Montessori inspired materials, but oh, no. This thing is the beginnings of the City of Jerusalem. CGS-USA has a level I materials manual on-line for those who are association members and have completed level I training. This was my adaptation for our level I atrium.
 I inherited the base on an IKEA tray that someone else had started and had to "fit" everything on there so that it would "fit" in our atrium space. The walls are 1x2, and 2x2 sections of wood-glued together. The Holy Temple, House of Caiaphas, the Cenacle, Herod's palace, the individual houses and the pools are made of little tiny bits of 1/4" birch plywood.

Each child helped out with many of the various tasks. I am usually an extreme perfectionist, but I really appreciated their "kid-artistic" flare for this piece.

 The hills and valleys are layered styrofoam wood-glued together and covered with joint compound. These shots don't tell you that the walls, and the grey buildings are removable. It was quite a process to get the outer-walls to "sink-into" the joint compound enough to make an impression that would then dry. This "imprint" makes it easier for the child to figure out which wall goes where. Each wall section is unique and will fit in only one location. In this photo, the material is nearly complete. You can see that there is this weird spot of joint compound in the middle of the city that needs to dry and be painted before I can varnish everything. The varnish will hopefully keep the surface from chipping too much when the children bang the wall pieces against the plaster surface. Because you need to glue and wait, and plaster and wait, this piece took me about 3 weeks while doing all the Christmas-y things in between. Whew. Now onto creating the Empty Tomb. I suspect that D will want one of these cities of Jerusalem for home we may be "revisiting" this again soon.

Our atrium didn't have sectioned pasting boxes. Little pieces of paper were organized into tiny envelopes which were stuffed somewhere in some cabinet inaccessible to the children. My little guy, who is 5, is super interested in the paper work in the atrium, so I got out my 1/4" ply, my jig-saw, and some wood glue and set to work making pasting boxes. The one above is for the Baptism lesson. The one below is for the liturgical colors and city symbols. 

 The atrium uses the dove instead of the flame for the Holy Spirit symbol. In most of the pasting boxes, I pasted the control into the top of the hinged box. I stuck tiny eye-hooks into the left side of the box base and lid (not great for lefties I am now noticing) and attached a string (it is coated cotton from the jewelry section of the craft store if I recall correctly) to keep the lid from flipping open and down. I kept the string at a length that keeps the top from slamming closed and also keeps the box from tipping over backward. I also kept long tails on either end incase my glued square knot came un-done. Oh, I also used rubber cement to adhere each corner of the control charts to the box lid inside. The control charts are not laminated. This way, it will be easy to remove the control chart and replace it when necessary.

You can see on the top of the closed pasting box I put the symbols that represent what is inside the box so the child knows which one to choose. I started to mod-podge them on the top, but then realized that rubber cement would make it tons easier to remove them pieces when they need to be replaced.

None of the interior compartment dividers come up flush with the box edges. These shallow compartments make it easy to grab the pasting pieces, and also easy for the pieces to get mixed up if the child up-turns the box like a briefcase.

The kids and I also did a lot of polishing. Tons of polishing. These little containers hold the Baptism oils. You can see the horrible state of affairs regarding the one on the right. After polishing them, I filled them with a paraffin/olive oil/essential oil mixture. I don't think that the proportions are quite right yet. The balm should be solid enough to withstand some finger pressure, but yet be oily enough that the child can gather some on his finger. I feel that this one turned out too soft. I am pretty sure I'll have the opportunity to remake them at some point soon so that I can try again. (I added the following essential oils: frankincense, myrrh, lavender, and eucalyptus. I didn't add Baslm of Peru to this. Actual Chrism has a bunch of other oils in it in addition to the ones I've listed here.) I am usually not a fan of paraffin and I usually use bees wax for lotions, salves, and balms. But for this recipe, the idea is to be able smell the olive oil and the essential oils and bees wax would have added an incongruent odor.


Our level I atrium has never had a good tracing works station. This year, I re-made all of the tracing works for the atrium (that CGS-USA recommends in their materials manual) and figured out a way to keep our tracing paper on our tracing cards.

These tracing cards are 8.5" square, laminated, and the images are colored in with colored pencil. I specify these things because not everyone chooses to make their cards this way. I printed all of the images from the CGS-USA website. The folders are in a desk-file-holder, and we simply cut down regular white pocket folders from the office store. I laminated each folder with contact paper to make them slightly more durable, though with the typical child who comes through our atria, these packets will likely not be used as much anyway.

I designed a separate ply board with the magnets to hold the card and tracing paper in place. In the past, children needed to find four paperclips and ask an adult assistant to paperclip the card and the tracing paper together. I came up with this new magnetic board but it still needs a couple of tweaks, namely new magnets on top that aren't swallowable. (Maybe child safety magnets?) Anyway, I cut two holes in a 9" square piece of 1/4 plywood, one in each of the top corners. Then I cut another 9" square piece of ply and lay this on top of the piece with the holes in it and glued the two pieces together. Then I glued magnets into the holes in the bottom piece and flipped the entire thing over, so that the child sees the plain sheet of ply. The magnets are less likely to pop out since they will always be "pulled" up through the top sheet of plywood and the child has a smooth surface to write upon. The entire sandwich is about .5" thick, and the height isn't a problem. (D did a test run.) If you are going to do this, make sure that the magnets on top aren't swallowable, and that the pair of magnets, the one in the wood and the one sticking to the top, have enough magnetic power to want to be magnetic through a 1/4" of plywood.

I think we have a reader on our hands. Okay, he's been reading for a while. But this lounge-y position is just funny.

She was upstairs pitching a fit because she didn't know what 16-9 equaled. This is regular every-day behavior for her. Still. She's been doing this kind of thing since birth. 2 1/2 hours later she came down and said that the answer was 7.

Someone finished Book 1 and needs Book 2 cards already!

And finally, we did a bit of Montessori Math too. The other day I had a discussion with T about the Relative Size of Terms in a Multiplication Problem. This presentation is from the KotU Math album, Decimal Fraction section. Prior to this we did the Decimal Fraction Checkerboard. Oh, wait, I have pictures of that and I didn't blog about that work. Woops. Will have to write a post about that one. Anyway, this is the presentation after that, and then we will go on to Decimal Fraction Division by Another Decimal Fraction.

Incidentally, T has already figured out abstract decimal fraction multiplication, meaning the multiplication with pencil and paper only and without the Montessori material, so we will be skipping that part coming up. 

Okay, so the numbers above...The idea behind this presentation is to illustrate that there are some patterns that emerge when you multiply decimal fractions. 

If we are multiplying a number that is less than 1 whole (the multiplicand) by a whole number (the multiplier), we are always going to get something (the product) equal to less than the whole number multiplier. For example, when we multiply 0.5 x 6, we are taking a half, six times. If we were taking 1 six times, we'd end up with six. But we are taking something less than 1, six times. So, each of those portions of  less than 1 whole, all add up to less than a full six. T figured this out after a couple of prompts.

If we multiply a decimal fraction by a decimal fraction, we are taking a part of 1 whole, less than 1 time. We will get a product, or answer, that is less than our multiplicand, because we are taking that original fractional quantity less than one whole time. If we said, 0.5 x .5, we'd take a half, a half a time. If we took a half one whole time, we'd end up with one entire half. If we take a half less than one whole time, we end up with something less than that half. T figured this out before I figured out the album page.

In our third example discussion, we asked what would happen if we multiplied a decimal fraction by a decimal fraction that was more than 1. We multiplied 3.5 x 1.5 and got 525 as a raw product. Then we needed to decide where the decimal was supposed to go. T could see that if you take 3 and a bit a small bit, more than 1 time, that you'd get something near, 3 and a bit more. He crossed out 525 because it isn't anywhere near, 3 and a bit more. He also crossed out 52 because that is way more than,3 and a bit more, and then he decided that the decimal had to go between the five and the two. He found this fun. I thought that this seemed suspiciously like something you'd learn in a SAT prep class. 
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It is super cold here, and I feel like an ice cube sitting here at the dinning table with three shirts on, socks, slippers, and a scarf. It is 22 outside. We are kind of thin-blooded and wimpy here in these parts of the south. It is supposed to be up in the 70s mid-week next week. Thank goodness. Hope you are keeping warm where ever you are.


  1. I ate dinner wrapped in an afghan last night.

    At the rate D is going he will pass Kal-El in AAS by the end of the year. Dear me.

    They all look very grown up.

    I use a rolled up baby washcloth to do what S is doing with the little stuffed animal. I roll it tighter or looser depending on the size of my student's hand. I like the the little animal. I bet the dragon has something to do with not blowing hot air. So fun. I wanted to get some Suzuki training to learn some of these neat tricks, but they want thousands of dollars. Even worse, they won't train you unless you leave your family for six weeks at a time and move on to some college campus. Honestly. I am so past that type of thing. It's just as bad as Montessori training. At least you were able to get your CGS training without making your husband a single parent for weeks on end.

    I am really glad I am not making all of those CGS/Godly Play materials here. I am enjoying not having to make much. Me Too wants NFL flags for his pin maps but that won't be as hard as the map of Jerusalem. They have a giant one at our museum. We'll visit that one. They won't let us take it apart though.

    Ugh. If I mentioned the noise a computer makes when you start typing but haven't technically selected your browser or document as where you are working? Even though it is visible something else is currently selected, like your desktop? My computer keeps doing that every minute or so as I type now. It switches me out of my document and onto the desktop or something. Then my typing stops showing up and it keeps beeping at me. Grrr. How do I even Google that?

  2. I think I need to send you a snowsuit, for inside...the kind that zips up the leg and then had a fuzzy hood. I'd like one too. Oh, wait, it is supposed to get up to near 80 later this week. Looks like I won't need one.
    So interesting about the wash-cloth. That would have been easier, maybe. We don't have baby ones anymore. She likes Squiggles and he works well.
    We don't get to see all of the cool little things that her flute teacher has because Sydney generally doesn't have bad habits. And I think you are right about the "hot" air."
    I didn't know that Suzuki training was so crazy. I've made up my mind that at some point in my life I am going to take the Montessori training course. Just not while I have children at home. The CGS is pretty intense depending on when you take it and who the hosting site is. Our training was three times in 2015 and then a full week in 2016. My in-laws came and watched the kids since I was out of pocket from 8am till 5pm, and then had to "study" in the evenings. I came in having missed a session, but was able to catch up at the end. I am now searching for a level II training.

    NFL flags humn? So cool. I want to see them stuck in all the right places. He'll have to adjust a bit for the Texans and the Cowboys, and then the Jets and the Giants. I am sure he'll figure it out. They have pin maps in level II CGS. You could ask to take apart the city of Jerusalem! :) Since D has requested one for home, you all can take apart ours whenever you get here.

    Sorry about the computer thing. Kids all got computers for Christmas and it has been quite something answering everyone's questions about, what disappeared where, at the same time.

    Back to plastering my empty tomb and cutting up the AAS cards that came in the mail today. D was so happy to see them.

  3. Ha. Plastering your empty tomb reminds me of a travel show I saw recently. The gentleman was visiting China and ran into a lady (alive and healthy) who was supervising the building of her own coffin. You sound like that, "off to plaster my empty tomb!"

  4. And, yes, I think I'll have to set up the USA map so he can pin his NFL flags in the actual cities. Our Pin it! Maps USA maps have the capital and at least one major city for each state. For most NFL teams either the capital or the other major city will be the correct alternate city, but for some I'll have to add one. So for Texas I think it already has Dallas and Houston.