Friday, May 5, 2017


What a fun topic!  At least the kids thought it was hilarious when the magnets would slap together and scare them.  Kui has done some previous work with magnetism, but we stepped it up a notch with this binder.  It fell off the weekly (or monthly to be honest) work cycle.  Kui is only on Lesson #5.  This topic has quite a few lessons and it really challenges the child, even the adult sometimes! I came across the website Supercharged Science and decided to try out one of their curriculum dvds in addition to the free emails/projects that are emailed to us.  Below is the table of contents for the Magnetism work.
There are many topics like Light, Energy, Chemistry, Earth Science, Astronomy, etc. You can buy the dvd and then print out the information and put in a binder. 

Here is the lesson she was working on recently: Bouncing Magnets.  It gives a brief overview along with what the child should learn.  Then you watch the short video on the lesson and the child works with the materials.  I photocopy the pages for Kui so that she can write her answers directly on the paper.   
Here is the box of random magnets that are available for the lessons.  Other materials may be needed, but the child can gather those on her own.
The idea behind this particular lesson was to make the magnets "bounce".  Kui struggled with this for a bit, but she persevered and was able to get one magnet to stand on one end.  She is playing with the magnetic field between the two magnets.  You had to be very careful to not place them too close to each other or they would snap together.  Kui was patient and found the "sweet spot" (her teacher gave up after about 5 tries!!)
Once one magnet was standing, the trick was to get the other magnet to do the same thing on the opposite side.  This proved to be even trickier!  With even more patience, Kui did it!!  She was so proud of herself.

Here they are!  See the video below for the "bouncing" of the magnets.
Warning:  Please forgive the cranky baby in the video.  It was clearly nap time, but we were trying hard to get these magnets to bounce!

Bubs was working alongside his sister while she did her lesson.  He discovered that when he put two magnets on top of the shelf and then two underneath the shelf that they moved! 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Stations of the Cross

If anyone knows my boys, they know that every day during Lent, they were doing stations.  They would come up to me and say, "Mommy, stations are starting at 9:40 if you would like to join."  It was my greatest delight then, when I discovered that the religious store at our parish had a discounted price on homemade stations of the cross!  I, of course, rushed in to buy a set for our house and I couldn't wait for the boys to see them when they were completed.  My middle child, Nito, was very excited to hang them with me in our atrium.  I had to get a little creative in where to place all 14 stations, but in the end I think it worked out.  Now, I just need to control my persistent urge to reorganize or otherwise the flow will be off!
Here is a closer look at the first few stations.

This wall has the first 6 stations.  It looks a little cluttered here, but in person they actually look quite beautiful.  Hey, the real purpose is for the children to meditate on Jesus' passion, so it doesn't really matter that much.  I'm sure if you look closely, they aren't equidistant apart anyway!  I had to let that one go.  I believe the baby was eating a rock that she ripped off the Good Shepherd sheep fold so I was a little rushed to say the least.  Glue from a hot glue gun digests right?! Ha
Here are the 8th and 9th stations.  This is an example of how I placed them around existing shelves.
These ended up being in sort of an odd place.  I may end up moving that table somewhere else so that the boys can access the stations easier.  T-man struggles to see then since he isn't very tall yet.

Ok this picture didn't come out the greatest with the glare, but the 13th and 14th stations are above the altar.

I hope that everyone had a fruitful Lent and is having a blessed Easter!!


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Writing Program: Institute for Excellence in Writing

I have discovered a fantastic writing course for teaching style and structure.  We have been using it for most of the year.  It is through Institute for Excellence in Writing. I can honestly say I have never been so excited about writing...Like ever! Oh and did I mention that Kui actually has a smile on her face when I even mention writing? I mean the groans and faces she would make. Sheesh!
Here is the website with the information on the program.  This is actually a seminar with 8 or 9 lecture DVDs. Let me tell you...I was very worried when I started the first DVD. It sounded like a snorefest, but Mr. Pudewa is quite entertaining. Very funny in fact. (Sorry the picture is terrible!)

This is the little board Kui uses for her checklist. I told her that she would soon have too many to fit on that board, but she insists on using it! Live and learn.  Oh and pick your battles.

I gave her a binder to help keep her stories, rough drafts, and final drafts together.  I even put fancy little dividers with tabs.  She was very excited.

This is one of the types of books you can use. I chose U.S. History so that she is actually learning something while she is writing. Hey, to be honest, I am learning all over again.  I sometimes wonder how I even graduated!
We also have this one which incorporates funny stories like tall tales, fables, etc.

Just another example of something to use where the child learns as she writes.  This has stories incorporating some form of Geography.
We had an old bulletin board lying around so I used this to put her current rules and reminders.  I will switch them out to match the units we are working on.  This is such a helpful tool.  I have it right above the table where she does her work.  Then she can see it when she is doing other subjects as well, or just simply daydreaming!  Maybe it will slowly absorb and now that Bubs is reading, he even looks at it.  Btw...I will be starting him on Unit I soon.

Great Lesson #2 - The Coming of Life Timeline

I am updating my original post from a few years ago on the second great lesson in the Montessori Elementary Curriculum: The Coming of Life. This lesson revolves around the Timeline of Life, a long chart with pictures and information about microorganisms, plants, and animals that have lived (or now live) on the earth.  This timeline has really opened up the classroom for plenty of research.  Here are some of the areas which can be studied (list taken from Montessori for Everyone):
  • Biology: cells, organized groups, five kingdoms, specimens, dissection, observation, use of microscope
  • Botany: study of plants, classification, functions, parts of plants (seed, fruit, leaf, stem, root, flower), types of plants
  • Habitats: location, characteristics, food chains/webs, symbiosis, adaptation, ecosystems, conservation
  • Ancient Life: eras of the earth, evolution, extinction, fossil records, excavation
  • Animals: classification, needs, similarities/differences, human systems, nutrition, hygiene
  • Monera, Protista, and Fungi Kingdoms: what they are, classification, observation
This new section of materials has definitely grabbed the attention of the boys.  I mean baskets full of dinosaurs and animals is much better than doing fractions!  There is a reason why I haven't gotten these materials sooner.  Perhaps it is the way that my boys turn into crazy people and start running around the classroom attacking each other or perhaps it was a lack of time.  Either way, I finally got these situated and the boys were very appreciative for this presentation. 

The story for this presentation is very informative and actually interesting.  It will easily hold the attention of your child.  You also have a bargaining tactic......baskets of exciting new objects to touch and work with!  This is the beginning of the timeline.  It starts with the Age of Invertebrates, also known as the Cambrian and Ordovician time period.  Don't mind the half colored part at the top of the timeline.  Kui never finished coloring it when she was presented this awhile ago.  However, it is still quite usable.  

This is the Age of Fishes, also known as the Paleozoic Era.

My boys favorite section of the timeline - DINOSAURS!!  This is the Age of Reptiles, also known as the Mesozoic Era.

This is the Age of Mammals, also known as the Cenozoic Era.

Here is a different angle with the objects.  I have to say that the cave woman and child in the top right hand corner are a bit scary to look at!  

With a little research, I found this teacher who drew her own timeline and made it into a printable format!! Yay!!  All I had to do was print it out and laminate it.  Now, if you look up close, my laminator went on the fritz towards the end of the timeline and it has some bubbles.  It was quite the process trying to laminate a sheet so long! Totally usable though and the older kids are now able to recreate their own timeline, but in a user friendly size.  I never knew Kui was quite the artist.  Clearly she doesn't take after her mother!

This timeline also has fewer pictures which makes the idea of recreating it much easier.

There are two supplements that I came across for this timeline.  I got the books here. It goes into detail on most of the pictures from the timeline.  The kids would find something they were interested in, like trilobites, and then find that page in the book to see more information on it.  Kui went a little bit further on a few items so we then used the library to find books on the subject.

Sample page from the Paleozoic Era book.

Here are a few samples from the Mesozoic and Cenozoic Era book.

Here are just a few books that I got from the library on the different topics that are discussed on the timeline.  I actually went a little overboard with the amount of books I loaned and essentially maxed out all of our cards on the book limit.

The kids each had their timeline laid out and made the colored pencils the middle point.  We wouldn't want their timelines to touch now would we?!  I will try to remember to add pictures of their completed timelines to this post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

School days, Christmas, and classroom flooding!

This has been our focus the last month.
Welcome to a new year on our homeschooling journey!  Good thing we don't have to submit test results this year because we are struggling on the educational aspect of schooling.  With the new baby, trip to Kenya, and now our classroom flooding, I'm not sure when we will start back properly!!  I guess that is the joy of homeschooling at its finest.  You can school anywhere at anytime.  There has been a lot of impromptu schooling and a great deal of relationship forming/bonding in the last month or two.  My husband recently came across a blog written by Katie Davis which is where the picture at the top of the post is inspired from.  (Actually it is really taken from the Gospel of Matthew, Ch. 28:19.) She really focuses on the idea of sacrifice and having true joy in the midst of it. We have really tried to step back from the rigorous schooling that I had all planned out for them.  My husband constantly reminds me that it doesn't matter how many presentations you get through.  If the kids behavior is poor and they don't treat each other with respect, then it doesn't really matter. We have missed the big picture.  
My boys teacher, (a blog I follow) recently posted a fantastic story of her journey through this school year thus far and it fits me perfectly.  I actually couldn't have said it any better.  She articulated my daily struggle, especially with homeschooling Montessori.
However!  Never fear!!  We will succeed in anything we put our minds to and persevere through it.  I am actually quite excited to get up and going again in our classroom because Bubs is probably ready for GRAMMAR BOXES!  Not sure why I love these things so much. Maybe because I spent so much time and effort making them and seeing Kui use them.  Check out my post.. I wish I learned my parts of speech that way.  Nito is also plowing through the sandpaper letters and gets so excited when he recognizes one of the sounds. He knows about 4 or 5 so far. It is a little slow going because he insists on choosing about 10 at a time and they are never the same ones.  He will eventually get it, but it won't be as quick as Bubs.  I don't want to force the issue though since he is excited about them and keeps choosing them off the shelf.
I have included a few pictures of some of the work they have done upstairs out of the classroom in December. We had quite a few guests over the holidays and my hubby took 3 weeks off work so not much schooling was done.
Geometric solids.  He feels the shape and tells me the name.

Fun with the pink tower and brown stairs.

This later became a bridge for his cars.

Pardon the baby playpen and mobile in the background!

Bubs is moving right along with the multiplication board.

Kui worked on the skeleton folder and had fun learning some of the funny names of the bones in our body.

This was her favorite!

Oh did I mention our classroom is totally under construction?!?! Ugh...It is never a good thing when one goes downstairs and hears the sound of water gushing like you are standing next to Niagara Falls. Needless to say, that we are upstairs doing very little work since we have sick kiddos and the cleanup crew is in and out. the meantime, we decided to play in paint and put handprints all over our front door! Good times, let me tell ya.
We should be up and running smoothly in a week or so and you can expect regular posts again.
But in the meantime, go love on your children, play a game with them, leave the dirty kitchen, and tell them you love them. Heck! Give them the afternoon off. School work will always be there. I mean, isn't this one of the reasons why I homeschool in the first place?