Monday, June 17, 2013
Things may be quiet around here this week while we vacation. However, I wanted to remind all readers of "What DID We Do All Day?" who use Google Reader to switch to a new feed site. I transfered my feeds to both Feedly and Blog Lovin' until I decide which one I prefer. It only took a few minutes.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Me Too has been working on the subtraction snake game (occasionally called negative snake game, but should not be confused with the ELEMENTARY negative snake game) this week. He thinks it is really silly that the snake shrinks.
I found presentations for this work in my Montessori by Hand Primary album and in my Montessori Research and Development lower elementary math album. However, this is one of those situations where a video is much easier to understand. I watched a video over at Montessori Live and am following most of their presentation format.
What I like about the Montessori Live presentation is that you don't count with a tab to find ten. You pull forward two or more bead bars at a time to create an equation. If the child has been using the colored bead bars since they learned teens and tens and through the chains work they will be very quick at identifying quantity by color. In this way they use their addition math facts to do practical work. At this stage we are counting backward one bead at a time when we reach a grey bar to do the subtraction or overlapping the negative bead bar onto the addend bars. When we play this game again at the end of the subtraction memorization sequence Me Too will be able to do that step without counting backward.
Note: This post was slightly edited to clarify terminology.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Today we visited a working farm where things are done as they would have been in the 19th century. The boys were allowed to help with chores for something like five hours and they loved it. They both can be quoted as saying "I love farm chores." Kal-El said that he wishes that we lived on a 200-year-old farm so that our whole family would be at home all day working together. He says any kind of work is okay when you are doing it together with your family. I asked him if that includes shoveling feces (to unromanticize his impression of farm chores) and he said, "It wouldn't be my favorite, but I would do it." In the photo above they are fabricating a wooden peg for a wagon wheel.
Doing the laundry was one of their favorite chores of the day.
I think they have a new appreciation for keeping their clothes clean.
Me Too loved hanging the laundry. He even loved it more that I used to do this chore occasionally as a child and that my mother had a similar clothespin bag. It is sad that I don't even have a clothes line now.
Me Too winding sisal twine into rope. I have to double check, but I'm pretty sure Kal-El said that this was his favorite activity of the day.
Playing 19th-century children's games and enjoying the shade.
Grinding rye into flour. The children were given name tags with common 19th-century names on them and the story of a child by that name. Me Too was assigned "Henry."
Shaving wood into roofing shingles.
Putting on wooden shoes before entering the hen house to look for eggs. No farmer wants what's on the floor of the hen house tracked into his own house.
Me Too was very adamant that his favorite chore of the day was washing dishes.
Kal-El scrubbed and Me Too rinsed. Kal-El has been asking to take over washing the dishes at our house. Today he suggested that we discontinue using the dishwasher and do dishes like this from now on.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Me Too has been working with the addition snake game. You may remember my post on the two styles of the snake game and their two positions in the addition memorization sequence. In our home we do it in both places. The first time, at the beginning of the memorization sequence, the child counts each bead on the bars individually with a counter and the game serves as a sensorial introduction to the addition facts. The second time, at the end of the memorization sequence, the game serves as a celebration of the now-learned facts and a review for the subtraction snake game that is about to begin the subtraction memorization sequence. This second time the child does not count the beads individually but pulls forward two bars at a time creating an equation that he can answer.
Me Too likes to create VERY LARGE snakes.
He is spending most of his remaining hours in the day trying to get his very loose tooth out.
Monday, June 3, 2013
Meet Oliver, my parents' new dog! Me Too LOVES dogs. They are his number one fascination. He gets it from my husband. I, on the other hand, am not a fan so we won't be getting one. Fortunately the boys can live vicariously through my parents. That's the best kind of dog...one that lives at someone else's house. However, in all honesty Oliver is *wonderful* dog. He is so wonderful he even makes me like him and want to bring him home. In the photo Me Too and my Mom are measuring Oliver with a ruler. Oliver was very patient.
Me Too picked out the book Measuring Puppies and Kittens at the library by himself. He was delighted with the pictures and enjoyed learning about the different parts of a puppy or kitten one can measure and the different ways you can measure them. The book explores standard and non-standard measurement.
When I read the book to him I couldn't help thinking that this was such a "school" kind of book. A child needs to learn what a 12-inch ruler and a yardstick are. They need to learn how to put the "zero" end at the very edge of what they intend to measure and need to learn how to accurately find the number representing the measurement even when the ruler or yardstick isn't up against a flat edge. Even when you are measuring something bumpy or wiggly like a puppy. The book does a good job of explaining those things. The photographs are well thought out and excellent. However, it is just such a "school" concept to learn about this in a book. It seems so silly to show a child a photograph of a ruler and a yardstick instead of an actual ruler and yardstick. It seems so sterile to show a child how to line the ruler up on paper instead of holding Me Too's hand while he measured an actual object. Which way is the child more likely to understand and remember? Now, most school teachers know this too and their many students explore their classrooms armed with their own rulers and yardsticks and measure real objects. Which makes me ask the question "who is this book for?" In fact, I chuckled when I searched for book images and found the book listed on a website called Awful Library Books. It wasn't there for the reasons that came to my mind however. It is listed there because it is an Australian website and they are decrying stocking a book that measures in inches in a country that uses the metric system.
What the book DID do (other than be super cute, which it is) was spark an interest in measurement for Me Too. I did arm him with his own ruler and yardstick and he measured things inside the house and out. It also inspired a "fieldtrip" to go see Oliver who patiently allowed Me Too to measure his height, his tail, his body length, and even his head.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Me Too planting a tomato in our square foot garden bed
I see a lot of homeschooling blogs are winding down for the year or shutting down for the summer. It doesn't feel like that at all here! We are in a great groove and I don't want to stop. However, while we continue steaming full ahead this is also a big planning period for me in getting ready for summer and next fall.
Next fall we will officially be a fully ELEMENTARY Montessori-inspired homeschooling family! This year we've definitely had one foot in primary and the other foot in elementary and I think the vibe of the blog has reflected that. One thing I learned last year is that I have to have the *core* of our work fully in place before "school" starts. So, I am taking some time RIGHT NOW to plan the important pieces, order materials, and decide what (if anything) we need to change.
On the whole, this type of homeschooling has worked REALLY WELL for us. There are no battles...just lots of fun and learning. That doesn't mean that there is no room for improvement. Two things specifically come to mind, both are relatively minor but one FEELS major.
The first thing I'd like to do in the fall is reign in the couple of "threads" that keep slipping out of the fabric of our day. Grammar, Geometry, and Spelling...you know I'm talking about you! I think the solution is for me to "schedule" presentations a little more diligently and change the work plan requirements so that they don't keep slipping off. Otherwise the boys have been doing deep work in every other area very nicely.
Kal-El planting a tomato in our square foot garden
The second thing feels major but is really rather minor. Everyone thinks that it's the first Great Lesson where Christian homeschoolers are going to run into conflict, but we sailed through that with flying colors. It was the second and third lesson that just didn't work with our beliefs. This led to a big flop. I presented the second great lessons with great dissatisfaction, was even more dissatisfied with the follow-up which led to not presenting the third great lesson at all. I did present the fourth and fifth lesson, but I used the Cultivating Dharma versions that have images right on the iPad like reading a book and when the boys didn't choose any follow up work I didn't suggest any. It's funny, I used to worry that without 30 other children doing inspiring work that the Great Lessons would not be enough to inspire ongoing work in a homeschool setting. However, the first Great Lesson alone kept the boys going for the entire academic year!
The good news is, I have a great plan for amending the second and third Great Lessons to match what the boys are learning in Sunday school. I will be using completely different timelines and different stories and different follow-ups. I also look forward to using the traditional Montessori timelines and stories in upper-elementary when we are ready to introduce other creation stories. I will be posting all about this of course, but right now I am in the middle of receiving materials and writing! So, all that work makes this feel like a big change. But, in reality we will still be using five Great Lessons as the heart of our "curriculum" and I will write lessons that stay true to the underlying purposes of each lesson. The only things that will change will be the text of the story and the images on the timelines. Wish me luck!
What about summer? You may have noticed, we have a VERY relaxed schedule during the school year here at What DID We Do All Day?. Part of what makes this work well is that we don't stop for summer, we just get more relaxed. I have been busy prepping the entire elementary Botany album for a full on attack this summer. I've been busy at night cutting and laminating all of the nomenclature materials.
Above you can see the fruits of my labor. You are looking at something like 31 charts, 30 definitions booklets, and 30 envelopes of three-part cards (picture, label, definition). I already got all of the impressionistic charts for botany put together back in October. As you can see from the pictures throughout today's post, we've put in a good-sized vegetable garden. The boys have been helping me garden for a few years and they help with some perennial flower gardens as well. This means we have plenty of live specimens and real work to do!
Both boys planting pole bean seeds
I want to get through most of the album this summer. There is a lot of information in there. Getting as much of it as possible under our belts now gives us five or six more years of elementary ahead of us in which to make observations through all the seasons and review what we've learned. Another reason summer is a great time to do botany is that we are eating so many more fruits and vegetable because they are in season. This is a wonderful opportunity to put all of those nomenclature materials to work as we learn about the types of fruits for example and can classify what we are eating. Speaking of eating, the boys did all the work putting together this great planter, filling it with dirt, and planting 20 bare-root, day-neutral strawberry plants.
The boys are great little gardeners. They've helped with every step since they were quite young. We gardened in pots before we moved to our current home in the fall of 2010. In the spring of 2011 the boys built our first raised gardens with their own two hands. In the spring of 2012 they helped me double its size. This year we worked together to build hoop frames and trellises.
Almost all of the botany presentations can take place outdoors and we don't schedule any time in the school room (that doesn't mean they don't wander in there). The boys still have to practice their violin everyday. We've set up our summer schedule so that violin practice takes place right after breakfast otherwise the day gets too fun too fast and it doesn't happen. While I work with one boy the other boy works on math in the school room, then they switch. Also, any time there is rainy weather or it's just TOO HOT to go outdoors we pop in the school room and do some other work with the Montessori materials. I'd LIKE to pick up the most basic grammar presentations for the parts of speech we didn't get to this year so we are ready to dive into grammar boxes in the fall. I'm not making any promises when it comes to grammar.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Today I have some pictures of some of the work we did in the school room this morning. Me Too started off on the tone bars. This quickly turned into playing something on the tone bars in the school room and then running to the music room to play the same on the piano. Repeat.
Kal-El began his day with geography. He practiced the United States map and the Africa map. This was followed by some work with the Africa continent box (I have some new items I haven't given them yet, I can't wait to show everyone! I need a sunny day with some time on my hands to get some good pictures.) He focused on African landmarks and had a lot of questions about the Ngorongoro Crater. We read about it in the encyclopedias and then watched a few videos of the area on YouTube.
Me Too finished the LAST game on the LAST addition facts board today. Also, if you click on the photo to enlarge you might spot the new gap in the top of his smile. He lost his fourth tooth, top middle right, on Sunday and the other top middle tooth is hanging on by a thread.
Me Too is gearing up for the stamp game. He has been doing the golden bead FOREVER. However, he just doesn't seem mature enough for the stamp game yet. He still gets his exchanging processes confused nearly every time. In the photo above he was warming up with a static division equation. However, below...
...he worked on dynamic division. Check out Kal-El keeping one eye on Me Too's work while he works with the multiplication bead board himself. Me Too did the big exchanges perfectly today, however he is still very immature when it comes to handling the beads. For example, he had a lot of unit beads (nine each for four "people") to hand out.
He needed to do this in a "one for you, one for you, one for you..." kind of manner. However, he still forgets to give one "person" a turn, tosses in a few extra on another "persons" turn, visits the same bowl two or three times in a row... I know he is "finishing primary" and I'm "holding him back" according to many guides. I just personally don't see a kid who is doing the exchanges backwards pretty often and can't keep track of bead distribution as ready for greater abstraction. Instead, we've been focusing on the memorizing which he is GOOD at. Even with the memorization boards, we struggled with his maturity. He had a ton of trouble when we got to the bingo boards on which he places the wooden tiles. The first round through I had to sit with him because he knew the answer to the equation and could find the tile but couldn't find where to place it on the board. This was even though he was replicating a board he had used a hundred times. I'm not saying all this to pick on Me Too. I am proud of him. I am saying it because sometimes there is a lot of pressure to get the primary kids through the full math album and I just want to be transparent about how that is going with my kids.
The boys had some errands they wanted me to run today. At the end of their work, which is not all pictured by any means, they spent some time together driving the errands on the local road map on the school room table. Whenever I get ready to put that map away I catch them using it again. This picture is reason number 77 that we homeschool...the bond that has developed between these two brothers and the joy they have schooling together.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Congratulations to Janaki, Brigitte A., and Megan P., who won the three Montessori at home eBooks and Materials Bundles!
If you didn't win there is a great discount available right now for readers of this blog. Click here for a $2 discount on the eBook Montessori at Home by John Bowman. The book is currently selling for $10.95 and now it can be yours in minutes for only $8.95!
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I am happy today to share with you a download of the major scale pattern strip that we are using with our elementary Montessori tone bars. This is the green and white strip you can see in the image above.
I made mine reversible. I wanted the numbers 1-8 on the front and solfege (do, re, mi...do) on the back. This means there are two files.
Major Scale Pattern Strip for Tone Bars: Numbered Version
Major Scale Pattern Strip for Tone Bars: Solfege Version
- print the files
- cut and trim (each side of the strip will be in two pieces to fit into laminating film)
- place and/or glue back-to-back
- tape the two sections together
I can't promise that the width of the rectangles on the strip will match your tone bars. I can say that it is likely to match the width of your tone bars. If it doesn't fit, you may be able to tweak the size by changing the percentage of the size that you are printing the file. If that is more trouble than it's worth, this can be easily made with fadeproof construction paper.
When your child begins to play songs with this material rather than just build one-octave scales they may need to pull forward the appropriate tone bars above and below the highest notes of the scale. There are three ways to do this.
1. The child observes which letter names they used on the major scale strip and their color and pulls forward the matching bars above and below the scale they have already built. This is the method we are using for now.
2. Slide the strip you've already made up or down so that it begins with number one on what WAS number eight or so that it ends with number eight on what WAS number one.
3. Make three additional strips as you did above, BUT cut off the highest "do" or "number eight" from each strip. Then you will have three strips that go from do-ti or 1-7 that you can use in a chain to find all of the bars you need. You would start by using one strip starting on the note you wish. Then, you would ADD the other two strips above and below the first strip. The strips will be longer in both directions than the tone bars in total. In the case that you choose to begin your scale on G, you will use only two strips and they will run the entire length of the tone bars. This is probably why you see some sets sold in multiples and numbered 1-7 instead of 1-8. It is important to introduce the scale in a do-do or 1-8 manner because a scale represents a particular division of the octave and without that eight note you don't have an octave represented.