Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Parts of a flower

I finally ordered the guides from New Child Montessori. I'm really looking forward to looking over it and having a bit more structure. I know there's a whole big debate about a "curriculum" versus "follow the child". And I have a whole rant in my head about it. But I'm just too tired to get it out now. Suffice to say that I don't think homeschooling can HELP but be "follow the child". If we're "studying" the five senses in our Montessori time, and Nugget asks about spiders later in the day, that doesn't mean we're not going to look at pictures of spiders online, talk about what's neat about spiders, and go look for them outside. The "curriculum" is just a way for me to keep things moving in the school area in a reasonably organized fashion and keep me from totally giving up because one day I think I want to focus on swamp animals and the next day I think we should learn about magnets and it all seems too overwhelming.

Okay. Maybe that was a rant, anyway.

In other news, we continue to go into the school room for a bit every other day or so. Nugget still wants to do lots of counting, which is fun. She's had a huge leap in number recognition, and can now identify numbers and count out items for them. Still in a holding pattern on assembling words -- she knows the sounds, but can't seem to make the jump to laying them out in order. I have a few ideas for intermediary activities that might help. And, as should be of no surprise, sink and float is back out.

The other day, while I was nursing Sprout, Nugget pulled out the tree puzzle. We hadn't really talked about any of the puzzles before, but I took the opportunity to make a game of having her identify and pull out various pieces -- the roots, trunk, branches, and leaves. She had all of those down flat. She went to the flower next, and this gave me the chance to introduce the parts of a flower vocabulary. She got a real kick out of it, and asked me to repeat it numerous times.

Since she was so taken with it, I proposed that we go to a florist and find a real flower for her to examine. She loves the florist, so this was pretty exciting. They had a beautiful yellow lily that we bought, and she got to look in the flower cooler while there. We got home and matched all of the parts of the lily to the puzzle.

The next day, I noticed that one of the buds had fallen off. So I got a knife and dissected the bud with her, pulling out the immature parts (which were still identifiable). She's gotten a kick out of looking at those all day today, and when her Pop-pop and Nana came over, she brought the pistil over to show them. :)

And in other, other news, I've started slowly assembling infant materials for Sprout. He can't sit up or even hold things consistently yet, but I'm slowly gathering things as I see them. I found a couple of baskets on sale that seemed perfect -- not too tall, no pointy pieces, and flexible enough that he won't damage them by smooshing. My first order of business, I think, is some beanbags made with different fabrics. I've already raided my scrap boxes and chosen some that I think will work great!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Starting into math

Nugget's been into numbers more lately. She's counting things and counting on her own, just for fun. In the car the other day she started counting to herself. We started to hear her in the 30s... "thirty-eight, thirty-nine, thirty-ten". We corrected her "thirty-ten" to forty and she kept going. So we helped her with the names for each of the ten increments and she just kept counting, up to 100.

The sticker number line is still out, and she does that nearly every day. I also put out the spindle box, but I'm not expecting that to be used much quite yet.

My husband and her had a discussion the other day about his iPod holding 1000 songs. He was trying to explain a thousand to her, relatively unsuccessfully. When I heard this, I was thrilled! I went into the homeschooling closet and pulled out the decimal tray. I was able to show her one bead, a ten bar, a hundred square, and a thousand cube. Man, those thousand cubes are gorgeous! Montessori math materials are just great.

Nugget also spent some time tracing the sandpaper letters and we matched lower case to upper case. I wasn't sure where she was in her knowledge of upper case, since we've never explicitly taught them to her. But she knew them all! It's amazing what kids pick up.

And, it's not typically Montessori, but Nugget likes it -- I've put out pages from the Kumon tracing workbook. I have them in sheet protectors and have a wet-erase marker so that we can just wipe off the pages and use them again. When workbooks cost as much as Kumon ones do, you don't want to get just one use out of them!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Finding more time

Nugget has been asking to go into the Montessori room every day for the past few days. We've been able to get about 30 minutes at a time in there, which is a nice balance for right now.

I've refreshed a few things in the room. I'd love to show you pictures, but Sprout is asleep and I'm not going to turn on the light for that. :)

For Practical Life, I put out a marble-placing activity again. This time I put tongs out as an option; she tried that once, then went back to using her fingers.

In Sensorial, I made sound shakers out of plastic Easter eggs. The ones from Montessori Outlet are really difficult to tell apart, even for me. The eggs are filled with coins, rice, and other household things. They're much more appropriate at her level.

I also found another way to display the color shade matching activity. Nugget helped me change it around, and also matched the colors so that I could write control of error symbols on the back.

In Math, I put out a number line and some stickers marked with numbers for Nugget to place in order. She really enjoyed this and did it two days in a row. She recognizes maybe half the numbers right now, and I'm trying to work on this lately. She learned her letters so fast, I'm not sure why the numbers aren't sticking as easily.

For Language, I put out a few new things. I bought a pack of small wooden hearts and wrote the letters on those, and stored them in a wooden treasure chest. We made a game of pulling out one letter at a time and saying its sound.

I also put out a beginning sounds game from a workbook, where you match ants with letters on them to the picnic food that starts with that letter. Because this involves animals that she can narrate, this is a big hit, of course.

Lastly, I set out 3 of the Controlled Word Building Cards from Montessori by Ayashy. I'm a bit disappointed in the images on these -- instead of photographs of real things, they're very cartoony clip art. But Nugget got the idea, so they work fine. She struggled a bit with this activity. She identified the sounds in the word and knew the sounds the letters made, but couldn't put the letters in that order. I'm wondering if it's a problem grasping the sounds -> words idea, or if it's simply a problem of not understanding left to right/first to last. Definitely something for me to try to tease out, and an activity for us to revisit later.

In Science, I put out Sink/Float. I didn't plan to, but Nugget begged for it. That is such a huge hit. I'm curious if a magnetic/non-magnetic one would be as engrossing for her.

Although I'm happy that we've gotten back in the room, I've been unhappy with how scattershot my approach has been lately. I'm not upset with myself about it; a 2 month old is a valid excuse, in my book. But I would like to be more organized and have more of an overarching plan.

So I've been considering buying the New Child Montessori curriculum. I like that it's designed to work with the Montessori materials, but provides a framework for studying other subjects that are outside of the traditional materials. I like that it can be reused each year, just at a deeper level.

If anyone else out there has used it, I'd love to hear your opinions!
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