Sunday, September 26, 2010

How THAT is what I'm talking about

After we moved the Montessori materials out to the nook on Thursday night, Nugget didn't touch them. We got a new seed and root puzzle on Saturday and she did each once, but really didn't engage (a surprise to me, since the puzzles are her favorite part). But I just let it ride.

She spent most of this morning working on a 100 piece Hello Kitty puzzle. When she finally finished, she turned to the new seed puzzle. After doing it a few times, she started asking what the parts where. It took me a while to research it, and by then she was asking about the root puzzle. So we talked about both for a while, as well as the tree puzzle. I pulled some lima beans out of her sensory tub and we soaked and dissected one.

After that, she started counting various Sensorial materials (counting has become a favorite activity in the last few days). So she counted and we labeled things -- the texture balloons and weighted cylinders (with a pause for her to match them up, as well), the sound eggs, the Pink Tower and Brown Stair, and all 40 cylinders from the Cylinder Blocks (which she then dismantled and replaced).

I'm really happy with how smoothly that time fit into our day and enjoyable it was for both of us. This next week we're going to be building and planting a square foot garden, so she'll get lots of hands-on with plants and gardening, and we'll be doing a few experiments, as well. We've also moved to book #2 in Progressive Phonics and have been playing sounds games in the car.

This is more what I had in mind for our homeschooling. I'm excited to see how it plays out over the next few weeks.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Progressive Phonics

We're giving Progressive Phonics a try over here. The thing I like about it is that Nugget is reading words right off the bat -- a nice way to contradict her insistence that she can't read. I also like that the words she can read are mixed into a story that I read, so the stories are more interesting than your basic phonics starter. And, of course, having the main character be an animal is a big plus for my animal-lover. :)

Although she's sounding out the words in the first 2 books, she's definitely got a developmental leap or two to go before she's really reading. In the meantime, I think this is a nice, low-key way to keep the letter sounds fresh for her and keep her from getting stuck in the "I can't" rut.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

And now for something a little different

We took a little hiatus over here. Turns out Wednesday was Elephant Appreciation Day at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and what good is homeschooling if you can't scrap all previous plans and go to Elephant Day? :) Then Thursday, my husband had a class for work and couldn't be here to watch Sprout while Nugget and I worked in the room.

During our little break, though, I did a bit of re-evaluating. We're 3 weeks into our new routine, and I felt like we'd established a baseline from which I could look for improvement. Here's the problems I'm seeing:

#1 -- I'm totally overwhelmed by making topical materials for the current focus, keeping the foundation areas fresh (PL, Sensorial), keeping up with her level in Language and Math, and planning ahead to the next few topics (book selections, experiments, etc).
#2 -- She's not learning as much about the topical areas through the materials I make (matching, 3 part, etc) as she does through talking and experiencing.
#3 -- On days when our time in the Montessori room doesn't go well, it's stressful for both of us and I don't want that affecting the rest of our day.
#4 -- I see more concentration from her when she gets involved in other things through the day (puzzles, bean sensorial box, projects only a preschooler would understand) than in the Montessori room.

On the other side, some things are working well. She really enjoys the materials when they hit her at the right time. She's made definite strides in math in just the last week or two. And she loves the changing topics.

So we're going to try something a little different. My husband and I moved a number of shelves and materials from the Montessori area into the nook between our living room and kitchen -- this is where her thoughtful and creative materials are kept (puzzles, art supplies).

I'm hoping this will make the materials more visible and encourage her to work with them when she's having a sensitive moment.

There are possible problems, too. She might turn the materials into toys -- but I think she has enough experience with them at this point not to do that. When Sprout is mobile, we've got lots of problems.

As for the topical focuses, I'm going to incorporate that into our days with more experiential work -- the best thing for a preschooler seeing so many things for the first time. Oh, and books. LOTS of books. Some of her favorite things.

So I think we'll try this new way for a bit. I have no idea how it'll work.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sept wk 3, day 2: Clothing (human needs)

Wow. Nearly 2 hours today! And a very fun time.

The topic was clothing. We read a book with clothing from around the world, then Nugget headed straight to the activity that had caught her eye when she came in -- the dressing doll.

I got the pictures from's family crafts section, colored them, glued them to felt, and cut them out. Then I made the body out of felt so the clothes wouldn't slide around.

Nugget loved this. She dressed the doll for all different climates and events. And she came back to this throughout her work time; it seemed to give her a break, re-energize her, help her concentrate more on the next thing.

She worked on table setting, using a placemat I made up.

I wanted to work on letter recognition of some the trickier letters, so I printed out some worksheets. I know, I know, so not Montessori. But she loves them, and that's what matters.

She chose the Pink Tower!

Then I showed her that she could make a tower with the Brown Stair.

And that she could build them together.

That really caught her attention. She built and rebuilt those towers multiple times -- sometimes she was WAL-E stacking trash cubes, sometimes she was building a house for Cooper, the teddy bear that joined us today.

Thanks to dressing-doll induced concentration, she also counted buttons into the spindle box - correctly - twice! And then she tried to count them all -- got as far as 17 (skipping 15) before stalling out. She's definitely had a developmental leap with respect to counting.

This is something we didn't get to -- her alphabet book, ready to get pictures of food and clothing items.

This is the current state of the PL shelves -- sock pairing, scooping to a line, flower arranging, place setting, and containers.

Tomorrow -- shelter!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Discussion question -- what do *you* do during Montessori time?

I'm still trying to figure out what works best for Nugget and I, and I'm curious about how other moms handle this. What do you do during your little one's dedicated Montessori time?

Do you sit with them, maybe have some activities to do together, talk with them through works, etc?

Or do you distance yourself, have your own work (a book or something), encourage them to work independently?

Comments encouraged!!

Sept wk 3, day 1: Food and water (human needs)

Argh. Aaaaargh.

We spent 45 minutes in the room, but Nugget only did about 10-15 minutes worth of work. She would do one small piece of something, then spend ages hanging over me asking questions and talking. I'd respond briefly, then after a while ask if she was done and wanted to leave the room. No! She wanted to work! So she'd do one or two small pieces of something. And then stop again.


Oh, and her little Hulk action figure joined us. He rode around on the trays as she carried them.

So. What did we do? Well, we read books about food. She traced two metal insets with her fingers (I saw her tracing the puzzle pieces last week and wanted to give her an outlet for that, since I don't have the geometric cabinet.... although I'm thinking about making some 2D shapes). She set a place setting (PL work).

Most of her time was spent doing -- or, really, not doing -- an alphabet book. I put together a blank book with a letter on each page, then cut out pictures of various types of food for her to glue on the appropriate page for the beginning sound. She was doing fine hearing the sounds, although she mixes up some letters (h and n, b and d). She would glue one.... then talk.... and talk.... and talk.... glue one.... talk.....

Anyway. She did that for a while. Then tried the trapdoor readers again. And lastly, counted Cheerios into the spindle box.

I'm not too disappointed with our day in there. Mondays are always hard, because we're getting back in the swing of things. So it wasn't unexpected. It was frustrating at the time, but she did get a little bit of decent work done. If I could do it over again, I'd probably try to engage her in a more physical work, like moving the Brown Stair, or a work that she could get into imaginatively (like the Cylinder Blocks). That might have kicked her into more of a concentration mode.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Topic overview: Human needs (Sept wk 3)

Monday: Food
  • Books: "Bread Bread Bread", Ann Morris; "Eating the Alphabet", Lois Ehlert
  • Topical activity: plant to food matching cards
  • Practical life: place setting
  • Language: initial sound book - foods
  • Math: TBD
Tuesday: Clothing
  • Book: "Clothes from Many Lands", Mike Jackson
  • Topical: dress-up paper bear
  • Practical life: dressing frames
  • Language: initial sound book - clothing
  • Math: TBD
Wednesday: Shelter
  • Books: "Houses and Homes", Ann Morris; "How a House is Built", Gail Gibbons
  • Topical: types of homes classification
  • Practical life: TBD
  • Language: initial sound book - household
  • Math: counting around the house
Thursday or Friday: Communication or Family/Friends/Love (undecided)
  • Books (communication): "Communication", Aliki; "What is Your Language", Debra Leventhal
  • Book (family/friends/love): "Big Brother Little Brother", Penny Dale
  • Topical (family/friends/love): family tree
  • Practical life: TBD
  • Language (family/friends/love): initial sound book - family members
  • Math: TBD

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sept wk 2, day 5: Touch

We had a really nice day in the room today. I think it was about an hour we were in there, but I'm not really sure where the time went. I can't point to any one thing that occupied her time, but we had fun.

We do one fiction book to kick off the theme, and today's was a favorite from the library -- "Tickle the Duck". So it started out on a fun note. I made up some touch tablets from textured scrapbook paper, and we talked about how they felt and did a blind matching. I put out the texture balloons from a few months ago, and those are always a hit.

In the rest of the room, she successfully filled the spindle box with counting bears, did a very little bit of practical life, went back to the hearing game, and worked with me on the Pink Tower and Brown Stair.

I printed out and set out 4 of the trap door readers. I LOVE these. I'm not sure how she did with them -- she had trouble holding them without pinching the slider and just wanted to see the pictures. I intervened a bit to make them work correctly, and she did seem to be blending.... but it's hard to tell.

Now, a weekend of preparations for next week -- human needs!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sept wk 2 day 4: Smell

Another quick, 30 minute day. Our topic was smell -- I had some nice, smelly flowers in the room and I had three smelling bottles with orange, pine, and cinnamon for her to match to those items. I don't think she matched, just smelled, but it was fun anyway. Here's our topical shelf -- smells on top; hearing, sight, and taste on the bottom.

In math, she had no problems setting out 0-5 counting bears. Her counting has advanced a lot in the last month or two, and I can't take any of the credit for it. It's just a developmental thing, I think -- before, she just got too excited and jumped ahead of her one-to-one. We'll see if she can stay on track long enough to count out 6-9 bears. :)

In language, she sequenced the story "Curious George Rides a Bike". And she matched the words "web", "fox", and "egg" to their pictures.

In sensorial, she worked on a height-shape puzzle and partially corrected her mistakes. She really just doesn't seem to see the problem when some of them are swapped.

And in practical life, she did some spooning. I also have out tonging into small, plastic "champagne" goblets, spooning coffee beans, and flower arranging and containers.

Like I said, a quick day and nothing really grabbed her interest. I didn't push it, because Thursday is daddy-daughter day and there were much more interesting things to do with the rest of her day. Usually we don't do work time on Thursday, but I really wanted one day for each sense.

Tomorrow -- touch!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sept wk 2 day 3: Taste

Another hour in the room. I delayed taking us in because Nugget was so involved in a 100 piece puzzle and I didn't want to disturb that. In fact, she's back to doing it again after we got out of the room. :)

We started out with some books on taste and then went on to tasting. Last night, I made 4 different flavors -- salt water, sugar water, instant coffee, and lemon juice. Nugget tasted each and I told her the names. She only wanted to do it once in the beginning, but she returned to it at the end (and ended up spooning lots of sugar water into her mouth :) ).

The rest of our time alternated between nice, productive work and near-breakdowns. She did a little of everything -- PL, puzzles, sequencing, sensorial, etc.

I set out some pictures of pink series words ending in 'g' and 'n' and she sorted those very well. This provided an interesting example about being very careful about making materials. When I'm making materials, I hardly every re-use ones that other people have designed because I want to make sure that the picture shows exactly what I'm aiming for and that I think Nugget will understand it. In this case, I made a picture for "egg", but chose an image with multiple eggs (I thought it would be easier for her to see what it was). Of course, then she didn't hear the 'g' at the end of the word -- she heard an 's'. So I dashed into the closet and quickly pulled out a Sandpaper 's'.

The ending-sound activity was pretty easy for her. She looked to me for verification each time, but got all of them right. So ending sounds are too easy, middle sounds are too hard. Guess I'll just give it more time.

I tried the Moveable Alphabet again and she helped me find the sounds as I sounded out a short grocery list. But then she wanted to write "grocery store" and somehow working to do this led to a breakdown. I think the MA is just out of her reach, and so it's easily frustrating. I'm going to tuck it away for a while and might step outside of the usual Montessori sequence and see how she does at reading some simple CVC.

At the end of our work time, I had one more taste experiment. The night before, I made 3 yogurt smoothies -- one banana, one strawberry, one vanilla. I put them in opaque containers and had her see if she could tell which was which. She couldn't, but it was tasty anyway!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sept wk 2, day 2: Hearing

Just under an hour in the room today. We did a game where I played various sounds and she chose the picture of its source. I think you can find the sound files online if you search for sound bingo.

We tried to work on identifying middle sounds (sorting CVC words for e vs u), but she just wasn't hearing them. I put out and she worked on opening and closing containers, as well as more sequencing. I think most of our time was spent on the Pink Tower and Brown Stair -- she initially built the BS incorrectly, but eventually corrected it. It's still just on the edge of her grasp, I think.

Sorry these are getting short -- I'm feeling pretty swamped by getting things set out for the next day, prepping materials for the next week or two, and planning topics further out.

Tomorrow -- taste!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sept wk 2, day 1: Sight

Tired. Long day. Been working on materials since the kids went to bed. But I want to get down some quick notes about how the day went.

Nugget wasn't very taken with the materials today. We only spent 30 minutes in there, which included reading some books about sight. She tried the patterning activity using counting bears -- this is just every so slightly out of her reach. Sometimes she gets it, sometimes she doesn't. She did story sequencing (easy for her, but a way to practice left-to-right). She used both whole-hand and tongs to transfer some plastic pompoms (and counted them with a very distinct touch-count; usually she skims over but gets the right number). I managed to get her to try the color 3-part cards (using our family's favorite colors), which she did well at. And she finished up with color shade matching, still not at all a favorite.

After we left the Montessori room, we had a few sight-related experiments to do. For night-vision, I taped up a picture of a cat in a dark room, had her look at a light for a while, then brought her into the room. It took a few minutes for her eyes to adjust to be able to see the cat. And for color-mixing, I used food coloring to color vanilla pudding red, yellow, and blue, and then mixed to get the secondary colors. And then she got to eat it!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Topic overview: Senses (September, wk 2)

Going for 5 days this week to give one day to each sense.

In addition to our topical activities, I'll be swapping out the oldest Practical Life almost every day (aiming to have one whole hand, one wrist turning, and one three finger grasp out). The week will start with last week's pouring lentils into two small cups and moving water with a sponge. The first day will add transferring with tongs.

We'll also be moving forward in Language Arts with rhymes, story sequencing, and the Moveable Alphabet.

In Math, I still have out tanagrams and will introduce a pattern activity (which she started asking about last week).

Sensorial will grow a lot this week as I bring out materials that relate to each sense. I also added the Brown Stair.

Each day will have the appropriate book from the series "Exploring our Senses" and "Rookie Read-About Health" in addition to the fiction book listed.

Day 1: Sight
  • Color shade matching (homemade material using paintchips and clothespins; never been a big hit with Nugget)
  • Color 3 part cards (no real interest so far in 3 part cards, but I chose our family members' favorite colors as a hopeful point of interest)
  • Night vision experiment
  • Color mixing with food-colored pudding
  • "Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What do you See?", Eric Carle
Day 2: Hearing
  • Silence game
  • Listening walk
  • Bell/no bell sorting
  • Sound eggs
  • Sound bingo
  • "Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?", Dr. Seuss
Day 3: Smell
  • Smelling bottles w/ cards
  • Salt dough or play dough w/ scents
  • Herb & spice 3 part cards (maybe)
  • "A Very Good Smell" (Peep and the Big Wide World), Laura Gates Galvin
Day 4: Taste
  • Tasting bottles w/ cards (sweet, salty, sour, bitter)
  • Mystery flavored yogurt smoothies (strawberry, banana, vanilla)
  • "Pie in the Sky", Lois Ehlert
Day 5: Touch
  • Touch tray (various textures: sponge, spoon, feather, etc)
  • Mystery bag
  • Texture balloons
  • Art project w/ friend: textured paint
  • "Tickle the Duck!", Ethan Long

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sept wk 1 experiment: Calcium in bones

Well, it took all week, but our experiment finally finished up! On Sunday we ate fried chicken drumsticks for lunch and saved the bones. One bone we let dry out. The other, we put in vinegar. Vinegar dissolves calcium. As the week passed, the bone got softer and softer. Finally, on Friday, it was flexible enough to bend!

Nugget was fascinated by this, and carried the bones around the house for a while this afternoon.

Sept wk 1 day 4: Staying healthy

An hour and a half in the room today. We might have been able to stay more, but she was starting to tire out and we had visitors coming for messy preschool art fun.

Today's topic was keeping your body healthy. We talked about healthy foods and exercise. The topical activity was sorting food cards into sometimes foods and all the time foods, which was no problem for her -- we talk about that sort of thing all the time.

There was a new Practical Life activity -- transferring water with a sponge. I also had a semi-Sensorial activity to sort by size -- the cheaper version of this. She got two of the middle sizes mixed up, oddly enough. She also worked on tanagrams and was starting to show signs of tiring out. So she moved on to a new language activity, matching rhymes. It took a few cards for her to remember how rhyming worked (I realize now that we haven't done it in a while), but she was hitting all of them by the end.

Then, Nugget chose another language -- the Melissa and Doug See & Spell. We were hanging out together, working on this and chatting... I spelled a word off of the cards and we started talking about how you can lay out sounds in a word to write it. I knew she was starting to be able to hear sounds inside of words.... so I took a chance and pulled out the Moveable Alphabet.

We worked together on the first word, "mom". Then "dad", which she wanted to turn into "daddy". Then she just wanted to keep going. We ended up spelling out all of our family names.

Here you can see her working on "Liz". She insisted that she heard lots of "z"s.

Column 1: Miles ("miz"), Gramme ("grm"), Aunt Heidi ("iet hd"), Ken ("cn")
Column 2: Mom, Daddy ("dade"), "atle"
Column 3: Nana ("nen"), Pop-pop ("pppp"), Liz ("lzzzz"), Grandpa (I helped with this) Johnny ("jn")
Not seen: Pap Webb ("p wb")

She was definitely getting tired by the end (you can tell from her efforts), but she really wanted to write everyone's name. You can also tell that hearing vowels is still tricky for her. But what an amazing step! I'm just blown away! You could have knocked me over with a feather.

We've got a few day break before we start the Five Senses on Monday, but I'll probably pull out the Moveable Alphabet over the weekend to give her some more exposure to it.

Oh my goodness!!

Details later....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sept wk 1 day 3: Digestion

Not as great a day today. Nugget wasn't in quite the right mood and Sprout was exhausted and wouldn't stop crying and go to sleep for DH (so my mind wasn't on the task at hand). Still, we covered everything I wanted to for digestion (books and experiment), did the organ location exercises, and got in a few Montessori and Montessori-like materials (pouring into 2 too-small containers, tanagrams) in the 45 minutes we spent.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sept wk 1 day 2: Brain, heart, lungs

Another great day! We studied the brain, heart, and lungs, and spent an hour twenty in the room.

Again, we started out by reading books. Then we did a version of "Simon Says" (we used "my brain says") and the felt body organs. We blowed bubbles (well, I did, Nugget tried to) and listened to her heart with a stethoscope before and after she ran around. I demoed some three (well, four) part cards about the organs but it was way over her head and she blew it off. I'm not surprised; I'm going to simplify the cards a bit and try again tomorrow.

Then Nugget moved on to the typical Montessori work. I put out a lentil pouring activity which she dug in to, then tried the bead sorting (I simplified from yesterday) but didn't do it right.

She did puzzles, and when she started looking around, I suggested a Pink Tower game (she looks away, I remove one block and ask her where it was). Through our work with the Pink Tower, I'm certain she CAN do it, she just has more fun not doing it (the sly smile and "is that right?" when she put them in the wrong order).

She went back to the pouring and, for the first time, poured into two containers (tomorrow, I'm going to set out containers that are too small to fit all of the lentils). Then she sorted -- correctly, when I suggested that she was putting the animals (the beads are shaped like sea life) into their homes. She noticed that they were beads, and asked about threading them. The beads and holes are so small, the only way to do that was with a needle and thread. She worked so hard and so carefully! She threaded all 36 beads. I was very impressed with her work.

She finished up doing some sequencing work. Interesting note -- she'd been sequencing one of the stories -- a dad lifting a girl -- incorrectly. I'd thought last night to put stickers on the back so that she could check her work, but didn't. Today, in order to help her see her error, I asked her to tell me the story of each group she sequenced. And she wasn't wrong! Instead of seeing the story as "girl runs toward dad, dad starts to pick up girl, girl is in the air", she saw it as "girl runs toward dad, girl is up in the air, dad puts girl down". I'll totally give her credit for that answer -- it could be read that way! Another reason to love homeschooling. :)

Tomorrow -- digestion!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sept wk 1 day 1: Bones and muscles

Our first day went well! We got started at 8:30am and stayed in the room for an hour. That's a great length, I think -- my eventual goal is 2 hours, but right now an hour is just fine. Today, I would have been happy with anything over 30 minutes. My husband was home to be able to hold on to Sprout, so I just had to leave once to nurse him.

I'm not taking many pictures while Nugget is working -- it's a big distraction for her. But I've got some pictures of our environment and materials.

This is our set-up. It's part of our master bedroom. I have one shelf for Practical Life, a couple for Sensorial, and one each for Language, Math, and the current topic. The shelves are pretty bare because I don't want to swamp her with a ton of stuff right off the bat.

This is our Practical Life. I have a sorting activity and flower arranging (a perpetual favorite). I spent a lot of time setting out an assortment of beads so that she could sort by either color or form -- I was interested to see which she would pick. But she poked at it, didn't find any matching pairs (nothing matches in both color and shape), and turned it into a straight transferring activity.

Current Sensorial materials. This will slowly grow as the days and weeks go on. She completely ignored them today, as is usual.

New Sensorial material to go along with "muscles" -- weighted containers. There are pairs of 3 different weights. Nugget did a great job with these -- she was able to pair, grade, and name (heavier, lighter).

Language. On the bottom is a Melissa and Doug activity, on the top are sequencing cards available for free from Montessori for Everyone. I chose to start with these because Nugget seems to have a hard time with picking the "first" letter when looking at a word. She often picks the last letter instead.

Our topical shelves. I have out some things to pick up and look at -- a paper mache skull and a remarkably nicely done skeleton from a Dollar Tree garland. (I'd like to highly recommend doing a unit on skulls around Halloween.) Behind those are the skeleton matching cards, and on the bottom is a skeleton puzzle she's had for a while but I tucked away so that it would feel new for this unit.

Here's a fun craft project -- my version is on the left, hers on the right.

We started out our time in the room with a silly song ("Dem Bones", and Nugget looked embarrassed for me) and then read some books about bones. Nugget then went right for the animal skeleton matching and did it perfectly -- even recognizing some skeletons without seeing the animal picture. I introduced the idea of "checking your work" for the first time, with stickers on the back, and she used it (before, she'd just matched the backs without attempting the activity).

She proceeded to do the craft, investigate the hands-on bones, try the sorting, and assemble the skeleton puzzle. Then there was a break to look through the "Visual Dictionary of the Skeleton" together (she loves books like this). Then back into the room for sequencing, flower arranging (and unarranging), and weighted containers. BACK to the "Visual Dictionary of the Skeleton", then she started to "play Pixar" on the bed, so I got her to straighten up the room and we called it a day at 9:30am.

Outside of the room, we've been soaking a chicken bone in vinegar (to dissolve the calcium and make it bendable) and looking at an x-ray of her metal-skeletoned Bullseye stuffed friend (gotta love having a family member in the health care industry!).

Back tomorrow for heart, lungs, and brain. I won't do such a detailed review every day; I've got enough on my plate just preparing for the next days! But I do want to track what she's up to, so there'll be SOMETHING here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Topic overview: Human body (September, wk 1)

Here's what I have planned, created, or checked out for this week. It's a lot; I don't know how much we'll get through, but we'll use what we can. In addition to this, I'll have a couple of Practical Life activities out, the basic Sensorial (Pink Tower, Cylinder Blocks), and some early literacy (sequencing).

Day 1: Bones and muscles
  • Skeleton puzzle
  • Weighted containers to pair/sort (yogurt smoothie containers filled with sand & glue)
  • Cards to match animal to skeleton (available on my Box -- see sidebar)
  • Dissolve chicken bone in vinegar
  • Glue uncooked pasta onto body outline to form "skeleton"
  • (hopefully) an x-ray of her stuffed Bullseye with metal skeleton
  • "Jessica's X-Ray", Pat Zonta
  • "The Skeleton Inside You", Philip Balestrino
  • "The Visual Dictionary of the Skeleton"
  • "Funnybones", Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • "My Muscles", "My Bones", Carol Lindeen
Day 2: Heart, lungs, brain
  • Appropriate felt organs on body cut-out
  • Appropriate cards to match organ to location in body
  • Blowing bubbles
  • Simon says
  • "My Brain", "My Heart", Carol Lindeen
Day 3: Digestion
  • Digestion demonstration
  • Appropriate felt organs
  • Appropriate organ cards
  • "My Stomach", Carol Lindeen
  • "What Happens to a Hamburger", Paul Showers
Day 4: Staying healthy (food, exercise, cleanliness)
  • Hand washing demonstration (cover hands in cinnamon, demonstrate washing)
  • Healthy/not healthy food cards
  • Vegetable printing
  • "My Amazing Body", Pat Thomas
  • "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", Eric Carle
  • "You Are What You Eat", Melvin Berger

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our start-up plan

Here's our plan for the first month. I'm planning to do mostly 4-day weeks.

September, week 1: Our body
  • Bones and muscles
  • Heart, lungs, brain
  • Digestive system
  • Staying healthy (eating, exercise)
September, week 2: Senses
  • Sight
  • Sound
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Touch
September, week 3: Human needs
  • Food and water
  • Clothing
  • Shelter
  • Family, friends, love
September, week 4: Our local area
  • Our yard
  • Our neighborhood
  • Our village
  • Our nearest town
We'll have to see how that amount of things to cover works out for us. I'm thinking it might be moving a bit fast. Things will slow down after this first month -- we'll spend a number of weeks (possibly a whole month) on plants, then do more 2-week focuses.

Thoughts on New Child Montessori

I've had some people ask what I think of New Child Montessori. Here's my initial thoughts, keeping in mind that we haven't started Montessori time yet. :)

I think it's a fabulous purchase if you're looking for a bit more structure than traditional Montessori; it strikes me as a Montessori way of doing unit studies. I like that it brings in topics that don't fall into the core areas -- like animals and plants, history, space, etc.

We're not following it page by page. First off, there's too many things to do in just one year! Secondly, there are some things I want to focus on and others I want to drop until Nugget is a bit older. Thirdly, I needed to change the timing of things -- in Florida, it's best to do animals and plants in the fall and winter when we can be outside, and save the continent studies for when we're stuck inside in the summer.

I started by writing out the New Child plan for a year, then moving and altering as necessary to get a personalized overview of what I'd like to cover. I use the book lists and activity ideas, and may pick up on some of the songs/rhymes/etc.

So for me, it's more of a reference set than a day-by-day plan. I think it would work equally well either way.

I don't have any experience with the Supplement, Art Guides, or Yoga (although I totally covet the Art :) -- maybe another year!). But the seasonal guides are well-written, well organized, and generally an amazing amount of material for the price. I highly recommend them, and wish I'd gotten them sooner.

Just around the corner

Things have been quiet on this blog, which feels weird with everyone else gearing up or starting! I've just been busy with preparations and other things (making 36 fabric matching games for an activity bag swap, for instance).

We're starting in earnest next week, so I'll have lots more to say then. I'm also hoping to get a few posts up before that about the preparations I've done, how this year is going to be different from last, and what I think of New Child Montessori.
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