Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Toddler Life

Nito is busy busy polishing the wooden cheetah in our environment in the picture above.  How long did it last you might ask?  1 min? 5 min? 10 min if we are lucky?  He polished the cheetah and then moved on to the zebra for over 15 min!!  There are some days that he works so well and then there are other days when I find him standing on the tables, scribbling on his sister's work, giving the baby "a kiss" while he is peacefully sleeping, etc. 

I find he works much better (of course) when I am actually able to sit down with him.  However, most of the time he gets the short end of the stick.  However, as we progress through the year and the older children are more independent, it has freed up time for me to focus on him now.  Not to mention that the baby is sleeping for longer than 20 minutes in a row!  

The toddler years are so important and truly set the foundation for who and what your child can become.  Most people chalk up these years as the "terrible  twos", but if you really stop and spend time with that little person, they have so much to offer and share with us, much more than we usually expect.  Now don't get me wrong, I have my terrible two days when I am cleaning poop off the carpet because my independent child wanted to get some extra sensorial work for the day!
Overall, Nito is doing rather well and slowly adjusting to becoming an older brother.  He does take advantage of my free lap when the baby (let's call him Anto) is napping.  At this point, I let it slide.  He will move into Primary over the summer and then maybe I'll have to give up my cuddles during the school day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Moveable alphabet

Bubs has really been into his numbers lately, but I have also been trying to encourage the moveable alphabet material.  A friend of mine reminded me that he just might not be in a sensitive period for reading/writing right now, but I didn't want to believe it.  She mentioned a little game that I could play with him that might get him over that hump.  She suggested that I have him take one letter of the moveable alphabet and find that same sandpaper letter.  Then go around the house/classroom and find objects with that beginning sound.

Soooo that's what I did.  Bubs went over to the moveable alphabet and what letter did he choose first?? X. I couldn't believe it.  I was like "Oh dear.  How am I going to keep encouraging the fun of the moveable alphabet when he starts with a very tricky sound!"  So I played it off like any good ole teacher would and redirected him to b, b, b, bubs!!  Let's start with the beginning sound of your name.  Phew!  It totally worked and off we went searching for objects with the beginning sound of b.  At this point, my darling elementary child, Kui, was quite excited to be distracted from her letter she was writing (#shedoesnotlikegrammar).  She kept spelling words that started with b and giggling when Bubs walked past the objects.


As you can see he went a little crazy and chose quite a few letters.  It was great though.  He did it for a solid 30 minutes.  I am hoping he will continue to think it is fun so we can move on to some of those trickier sounds and eventually introduce phonograms (sh, ch, etc.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Racks and tubes (long division)

Kui has been working on racks and tubes quite a bit lately.  She is now doing a two digit divisor pretty well. She doesn't have her multiplication down solid yet, so it slows her down a little bit and she ends up counting the beads.  So, I am finding that she gets discouraged easily when the answer comes up wrong, but it is usually because she counted incorrectly.  Not to worry mon frere!! We have ramped up the checkerboard, flat bead frame, bank game, and multiplication word problems to help get those facts learned.  She's not too thrilled about it, but I think it is a fabulous way to review. 

We have also been working on writing her work on paper correctly.  She tends to get caught up on the subtraction work in between.  There is also the confusion with counting up how many beads she has used up, especially with the ten board.  For those not familiar, the ten board (blue) and the unit board (green) are for the two digit divisor.  The child evenly distributes the beads between the two boards.  Then she adds up the beads to find out how many were "used" up.  Then that number is written on the top line as part of the quotient.  The child can then check their answer by seeing how many beads are left in the individual cups.  The control of error is built in (unless you don't quite subtract properly, then you might get messed up) which was the case with Kui a few times.  We did go back on another day to a one digit divisor to boost her self esteem a little.  She was encouraged by the fact that she COULD get those problems correct. 

She is now working on doing the two digit without having any help from her mama (aka teacher).  Hopefully soon we will be working into abstraction and only doing it on paper.  I need to go back to the album pages to see how to correctly present that.  Maybe there isn't a formal way and we will have to wing it!  Stay tuned.

Friday, March 13, 2015

World map

Bubs loves working with the continent boxes and that is really the only way I can get him interested in doing a map these days.  However, I enticed him to pull the world map out again by telling him that he would get to use his colored pencils!

He took out the world map and the plastic circle outline to trace the hemispheres.  He thought this was pretty cool because his favorite metal inset is the circle.  He said, "This is just a really big circle!"  (I was glad he was excited because he has been discouraged lately on some of the trickier metal insets.)  As you can see from the picture above, he chose to match each colored pencil to the correct continent.  He was quite perplexed when he couldn't use his white color pencil for Antarctica on the white paper.  I explained to him another way of tracing his map, but he insisted on doing it this way.  Baby steps I guess. 

Note:  For those of you not familiar with "the other way", I'll explain it.  The child can trace the hemispheres onto blue paper or simply color/paint them blue.  Then the child can trace the continents onto their respective colored paper.  (ie. Red for Europe)  Then he can cut it out and glue it onto the respective blue hemisphere.  Maybe one day he will want to do that and I will include a picture.

Don't mind the little baby hand in the photo.  He was quite excited to watch (and try to eat the colored pencils.)


 The finished world map is below.  Hmmm, looks pretty drab in this picture.  I might suggest to him "the other way" and see if he will go for it.  Nonetheless, we talked about each continent and I answered the questions, "Why are Antarctica and Asia on both sides?"  Great question!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Plant watering sticks

Bubs has a great desire to water plants and do flower arranging. He might just one day become a florist!  At his old school and in his current atrium, I had always observed these cute little sticks coming out from various plants.  I never really knew exactly what they were for.  I figured it had something to do with watering maybe, but didn't know exactly how it worked.  So I asked my future florist, aka Bubs!  He said that if there is a stick in the plant then it doesn't need to be watered, but if there was no stick then the plant needs water.

So I went searching for these cute little sticks to add to the environment.  Apparently it's not a good idea to seek out such garden paraphernalia when there is snow on the ground!  I went to the garden area of the store and it looked like it had been robbed.  Then it hit me that clearly it was still winter and I was not going to have good luck finding these sticks.  So I decided to make them.  My friend told me to just use popsicle sticks and Bubs took it from there. 

Kui of course had to join in and show him how to properly draw a flower for his stick.  So we ended up with some of hers and some of his.  Can you guess the ones he made?  I then laminated them and hot glued them to a popsicle stick.  I think they turned out pretty nice and no money was spent.

Bubs making shapes while the laminator was heating up.


Bubs then went around the environment placing his new plant watering sticks in the plants.  The plant below looks like it has seen better days......I think it might have gotten a little too much water and it is leaning sideways trying to run away!!  He of course watered all of them first really good.

After about 30 min of putting the new sticks, he asked if he could take it out so he could water.  I explained that it would indeed kill the plants if they are floating in water! And that's why we created these sticks so that there is no confusion as to whether or not a plant needs water.  Hopefully he will learn to follow his own rules that he created with the sticks.

Who can find the flowers in the pictures?  Did I forget to mention that Bubs LOVES flower arranging??

Game 1- Squares and cubes

My daughter is currently working her way through the squares and cubes chapter in the math album.  She has already finished with the notation of squares and cubes presentations and has started the first set of games.  Game 1 has the child fetch a square and a cube for each number 1-10.  Then the child puts the squares in a pyramid shape starting with the 10 square on the bottom working up to the 1 square at the top.  Doing the same for the cubes, but creating a tower instead of a pyramid.

I had practiced this presentation ahead of time to make sure I had all of the squares and cubes memorized to make it at least SEEM like I knew what I was doing.  Clearly I didn't have to use the cube of 9 with accounting (my pre baby life) and definitely not while being a toddler teacher.  But to my daughter, I know "everything" so I couldn't let her down.  Not to mention that my husband doesn't help the cause when he is telling her to ask her teacher when she doesn't know something!

She was thrilled to finally be able to stack the material after so many times of me telling her that was not what we were doing today.  So I skipped the formalities of the presentation and let her get to stacking. Then I asked her one of the great "Wonder" questions.  (We use a lot of those in the atrium to spark a child's imagination).  I asked her, "I wonder what the total of this pyramid is?"  She was excited to get started figuring it out.  Phew!  I thought she might just roll her eyes at me because it actually involved math.  She's clearly not a math fan.

The next step is to write out the squares on paper.  She started with 10 squared and went down to 1 squared.  She wrote answers in a column to be able to add.  She totaled it at the bottom to find the number of beads in the pyramid.

Then I asked her the total for the tower.  This was a little trickier and she had to use a side piece of paper to figure out the cubes she didn't know.  Little did she know that this work had some built in addition and long multiplication for her to practice!  Gotta love Montessori.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Good Shepherd

My child, Bubs, attends a weekly atrium class at our church.  The idea is for the 3-6 yr. old child to learn about the Catholic faith with a Montessori approach.  To learn more about the atrium, visit the national website here.  I have been teaching a class at our church since my daughter was two years old.  I took this year off to have a baby, but I value the program highly and wanted to incorporate some of the presentations into my home environment.  I started with the materials I could make quickly, like the chasubles, and moved to the ones that required a little more effort.  

So, now I am on the Good Shepherd.  I absolutely love this presentation and what child doesn't like to work with little sheep?!  I delegated out the wood projects to my dad (me + circular saw = missing phalanges).  I think I should stick to the scissors and a glue gun.  I scoured the Internet searching for these 10 wooden sheep and a shepherd.  I came up empty for months until a good friend of mine told me about The Shepherd's Closet.  Sure enough.  They had exactly what I needed and for a reasonable price.  So I ordered them.

The sheep have arrived!!  I was so excited to get started with my new craft project.  I whipped out the newspaper, paint, brushes, had music playing, etc. and got to work.  I had all the bases painted green and two sheep painted white.  Then my husband walks in......He wanted me to show him how the sheep were to sit in the base.  I was like, ok!  Then I went to put my nicely painted sheep into the green base and.......it wouldn't fit!!  None. Of. Them. Fit.  Sigh.  My nice craft project came to an end.  

In the meantime while I was waiting for my new sheep to arrive, I started making my sheepfold. I am not talented enough to make a proper one with dowels, rope, and a gate, so I just went with stones stacked on top of each other.  We'll see if it will hold up.  I just used a hot glue gun to put them together, but on the first try, my husband touched it and they all fell over!  Needless to say, I might be using dowels in the end.  We will see how long this one can survive with a two year old and soon to be crawler in the house!  I figured I already spent hours making it I might as well use it.

My sad attempt at a sheepfold.

So, I then had to call the company and tell them that the sheep did not fit in the base.  Long story, but they sent me new sheep and guess what?  The new ones fit!! All of them. (I will tell you that I cringed each time I tried a new one just waiting for it to be too big.). So I started the painting process over again and they turned out great.

Now I was attempting to paint my shepherd.  Did I mention that my brother was the one who got the artistic gene?  Anyway....I did my best and my daughter reassured me that it looked like the picture I was copying it from.  I then moved on to making my booklet and finally I was done!  

Now the moment of truth, the first presentation.  It was beautiful for the first, um thirty seconds or so, then Nito decided to throw a tantrum!  Bubs was so sweet and said it was ok to take care of Nito first.  Once Nito was settled,  I lit the candle and said, "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again".  Then I read from the booklet and he thoroughly enjoyed working with the material. 

 He continued to work with the material for about 15-20 minutes.  When I came back he had the sheep lined up following the shepherd!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Bank Game (Primary)

My son, Bubs (nicknames will be used), was itching to get his hands on the really cool looking golden bead material on his sister's math shelf.  However, he hadn't completed or even started the two presentations needed before it. So I told him we have to do this and this first.  He was like, "Oh dear!"  So I made sure I got those presentations set up and got him moving and grooving on those.  I tried to keep encouraging him to get through them so he can reach the "cool" material.

Side note:  We started this homeschool journey rather suddenly and did not start with a prepared environment.  I am buying and making materials along the way (ok really staying up late the night before to ensure the chart is colored, cards laminated, etc) so the presentation can go smoothly.

Ok back to Bubs.  He finally made it to the bank game!!  I was super excited to present this to him and made sure I practiced the night before.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this material, it is simply a game of matching the correct amount of beads to the card on the tray.  The picture below shows the setup.  The bead material on the left rug with the cards on the right.  There is a small rug that goes in between to put your answer.  The child uses a tray to fetch the beads.

Now the moment of truth.  We began the presentation, but things weren't going as smoothly as anticipated.  Not sure if I went wrong or if I had misread his readiness signs, but he was not getting it.  I could tell he was starting to get discouraged so I quickly moved into cleanup so that hopefully he will choose this from the shelf again.

The next day, he was wandering around the classroom and lo and behold!  He pulls out the bank game and asks if I can work with him.  (I was doing my happy dance on the inside, but of course had a serious professional teacher face on the outside!) So he got out his work rug and we began.  I started slowly and carefully ensuring that he understood and was not getting frustrated.  He was very excited to fetch 4 units for me and then 9.  Then we worked up to the 10 card. It seemed to click right away this time and so we ventured into the hundred cards.  At this point I was doing the choosing of the cards, but he wanted to give it a try.  I just made sure he chose one that I was fairly certain he could do so he wouldn't get discouraged.

Another side note: For any of you who are AMI trained or know about Montessori, I am quite aware that the work rugs should indeed be white.  However, when you are doing this in your home on a limited budget you will find that blue and green solid rugs work quite well for a reduced price.  Maybe one day when all my materials are bought, I might invest in some white work rugs!

Bubs continued to take more cards and matched with the correct amount of beads.  His sister, Kui, was working with the checkerboard at the same time and he heard her mention "tens".  His face lit up and grabbed a ten bar and ran over to show her that this was "10" too.  Those are the moments that make all the hard work worth it.  It finally clicked and he is happy to have his little hands on the "cool" material.  Now I guess that means this teacher needs to study up on the next presentation in the series.  

Here is a picture of his finished work.  He was very proud of himself.  (Ok some of them are not lined up correctly, but he got it!)