Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ant experiment

We moved from butterflies to ants -- mostly because I have life cycle models for those two. :) We talked about the life cycle, read a book, and watched some videos the other day.

Today we did a fun experiment. I divided a paper plate into sections and Nugget raided the kitchen to find foods she thought the ants might like. Each food went into a section, and we put the plate between 3 anthills.

We went out a few times during the day to check on it. I thought about counting and charting how many ants appear, but I think that's a bit complex. Maybe next year!

Instead, we just observed. I was actually surprised! I had expected the fruits to be the big draw, but instead, it was the Honey Nut Cheerios and the pizza! The raisins drew a few visitors, none for the fruit or bread.

Tomorrow, we may gather some ants in a glass jar and watch them dig tunnels!

In geography, Nugget's got the continents down. We looked at some pictures from the various continents (thanks, Jo!) as well as a bunch of the postcards I've gotten from Postcrossing.

I let her choose which continent we'd study next and, of course, she chose Australia! We'll start in on that once the many, many books I've reserved from the library come in....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Small steps

Yeah, I'm liking this new way so far! We managed to grab a few minutes again during Sprout's afternoon nap. We went over the terminology for the golden beads again, and I demonstrated that there were 10 in each (10 units in a ten bar, etc). Nugget decided to build a house with them -- which I allowed because I was subtly bringing in the terminology as she built. Ha, tricky me!

Later, we reviewed the continents again. She picked them up a lot faster than I expected! I did the orange-peel demonstration to show how a globe turns into a flat map, and then I brought out the continents puzzle. A hit, of course. It's a puzzle! Nugget *loves* puzzles.

We continued to talk about butterflies a bit. We watched some videos of their life cycle, Nugget brought the caterpillar model to Target, and I mixed up some "nectar" for her to taste (water, a bit of orange juice, sugar). She used a curly straw to be her proboscis. So fun!

We read through the Progressive Phonics books that she's had and moved on to a new one. She's mostly memorized them, not so much reading them. But sometimes she has to, and it's small steps, at least. They're there when she's ready to start to read.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Trying another approach

I'm still working out the best way to make homeschooling work for us. Today was my first shot at another approach -- more of a traditional homeschool situation with Montessori materials than Montessori at home. I didn't try to set everything out the night before for Nugget to work independently. When Sprout went down for his nap, Nugget and I settled into the nook to work together.

The last few days, I made a list of the big subject areas and the next 2-3 topics I want to cover. That way, when we had a few minutes to sit down together, I knew what we could cover.

In Math, I spent the last few days verifying that she can count out items from 0-9 and that she can identify the written numbers (she has to think extra about [and sometimes mixes up] 6 & 9, but everything else she has down). So we're going to move into the golden bead material -- I brought out the decimal tray and we've been looking at and playing games to become familiar with "one unit", "ten bar", "hundred square", and "thousand cube".

In Language, I have out the Progressive Phonics books (which she hasn't touched in a while) and we're going to talk about the double letters ('ee', 'sh', 'th', etc). I've come around to seeing reading as very much something she will step up to herself. I'm not really pushing a progression toward reading at this point (she's not even 3.5 yet!), just giving her pieces of the puzzle and waiting until she's reached the developmental point where it starts to click.

For Science, I put away the plant and seed materials and we'll start into insects. Today we read a book about butterflies, played around with butterfly life cycle models, and glued down pictures of the life cycle. Later, we hit the library and stocked up on books about different insects, so we'll pick our way through those over the next few weeks.

In Geography, Nugget really wants to learn about Australia. But today we started in the beginning, looking at the sandpaper and continents globe. We talked about the continents globe for quite a while, learning the names and talking about where we live, where penguins live, etc.

Practical Life, I'm just going to let happen in daily life. If I'm particularly inspired by something in a blog, I might put it out. But I'm not going to try to keep that stocked daily. And Sensorial I'm going to follow her lead. She doesn't really seem to want to do much Sensorial, but I'll keep a shelf or two of it out, in case she comes back to it (which she did today, after our other topics -- she played around with the Pink Tower and Brown Stair).

We had a nice time. We didn't cover a ton, but she seemed really "present" while we worked together. She showed a lot of interest and was very cooperative. It was a nice touch-base time for the two of us without the little Sprout sticking his nose (well, fingers) into everything.

And can I just say how much I LOVE the three period lesson?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


So I'm starting to get antsy to start up some homeschooling again. But I'm still feeling so overwhelmed and burned out on the preparation work. I was working for hours each night, making materials and setting up activities, and I can't do that long-term. But I do want to do some work with her.

How do you do it? How much time do you put in to your prep work? How do you keep from being overwhelmed?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Getting our hands dirty

Our square foot garden is in!

I know it doesn't look like much, but that's 2, 2x6 foot gardens that should give us a good amount of tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, peas, and broccoli. It's a place to start, given my historic black thumb.

Nugget worked really hard on the garden, mixing, moving, and shoveling. We talked a lot about compost, where it comes from, and why plants need it.

I've made up a seed matching game, inspired by My Montessori Journey.

And we're still loving the various plant books by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace!

The next experiment we'll do is to sprout some seeds and then see how they react with and without sunlight, with and without water, and with and without soil.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Geometric solids!

I'm so excited! I just rounded out our collection of geometric solids!

I've been wanting them for a while, but wasn't happy with any of the sets I found on the various Montessori sites. I really bought Margaret Homfray's guidance and wanted smaller shapes with more variety.

What I ended up doing was getting was the set of 19 solids from Learning Resources which covered a lot of the list. The big gap was the Platonic solids, which I just couldn't find anywhere! Thank goodness for playschool6, where someone pointed me to the Gallery of Wooden Polyhedra in Japan. I paid $35 for the small set of solids and shipping and got them in about 2 weeks. They're gorgeous and exactly the right size to match up with the rest of my solids. I'm so excited!

I'm going to try to hold off working on them with Nugget until we do some 2D geometric work. But.... maybe I won't be able to!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Leaf walk!

This evening, between dinner and bath, Nugget requested that we go on a leaf walk. I'd mentioned last post about not seeing much variety in the trees in our neighborhood, but I thought we'd give it a shot.

It turned out we had a really good time! Sure enough, the great great majority of the trees we saw were Live Oaks. But we found a few other ones along the way, about 8-10 types of leaves. By the time we got home it was nearly bath so we only got to look at them briefly. But they're pressing under some of my husband's nursing textbooks tonight, so we can take more time with them tomorrow.

I'm having a lot of fun having this undercurrent of plants running through this month. It gives me a consistent angle to look for in our daily lives.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Life and time are great teachers

I've been feeling conflicted lately on backing off of formal Montessori time. I really, really admire the bloggers out there who are doing a couple of hours of at-home preschool, and that was what I wanted for us. It's hard to give up that vision, even when I can see that it's not fitting in to our life right now. I've been doing a lot of second- and third-guessing.

So it's nice to have a moment to see that something is working. This evening, for instance. A few weeks ago, I posted about doing patterns with Nugget, and how it was just out of her grasp. She's mentioned patterns a few other times since then, but we haven't "worked" on them.

She had some foam puzzles out after dinner and she started lining them up. She called me over and asked if they were patterns -- she'd arranged them by background color in groupings like yellow-orange-yellow-orange and pink-purple-pink-purple.

So many times now, I've seen that it's often much more about time for her to grow and develop rather than anything I directly teach her.

And in the realm of life-as-teacher -- we've started a square foot garden! We've been sprouting seeds inside (or were, until the cat hopped up to munch them all), and we built the frames the other day. Nugget got lots of counting practice bringing me "4 screws and 4 washers".

Since we're focusing on plants this month, I'd wanted to go on a leaf walk. But our neighborhood in Florida has nothing but oaks and pines, oaks and pines, pines and oaks. I'm hoping to get out to a local nature preserve when it's a bit cooler.

On that topic, I found a fabulous book at our library. "Leaves! Leaves! Leaves!" is written for young kids but covers things like photosynthesis. Nugget loved it and has been bringing up parts of it at random times for days now. I really want to check out some of her other books.

Continent swap

I'm totally drooling over the results of the continent swap on Mondorfment . Nugget is starting to ask about different parts of the world, so I need to start thinking about getting things in gear. I'm sure I'll get a ton of inspiration from the blog hop, but finding time to make and buy materials.... that's the hard part!
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