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.