Monday, January 24, 2011

Studying ocean layers

We've been really laid-back about the current space and ocean studies. I make up some material whenever I'm inspired, and we fit the conversations into our day. I decided to put together some stuff for Sprout's nap time on Sunday, so we did an alphabetical order activity (train cars), some work with golden beads and tens, and an ocean layer activity. (When I asked Nugget what she wanted to do during Sprout's nap -- "read books, play alone, do homeschool" -- she jumped up and down and said, "homeschool! homeschool!". Poor kid! I wish I had more energy/motivation to make up more schooling stuff.)

To make the ocean layer activity, I painted a piece of posterboard with 4 shades of blue (in theory, there should be one more for the trenches, but I skipped that for now). Then I printed off pictures of some of the animals that can be found in each layer. The backs of the pictures have a brushstroke of the same color as their layer, so that Nugget can check her work.

Top: Sunlit layer with dolphins, penguins, tuna, etc.

Second down: Twilight layer with laternfish, bristlemouth, and jellyfish

Third down: Midnight layer with anglerfish

Bottom: Abyss with tube worms, sea pig, and basket star

This was an excellent activity. She was really interested, we had some great conversations, and she was able to place everyone accurately after one demonstration. This hit her interest perfectly, because she's fascinated with/terrified of the anglerfish from Finding Nemo (she's never seen most of the movie, but we've read the book and gone on the ride at Disney).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Where am I?

I disappeared for longer than a traditional winter break, huh?

Things are kind of up in the air here. I'm in a period of reevaluation for our homeschooling in the short term.

I now have a 9 month old who has three non-crying states -- attached to Mommy, into anything he can reach, or attached to Mommy AND into everything he can reach. His naps are unpredictable and short. All this to say that sitting down for dedicated school time with Nugget just isn't happening, not even considering the preparation time that goes into it. I'm feeling a fair amount of guilt about it.

So here's what I'm doing:

1. I'm working on telling myself that it's just a season, that soon enough he'll be in a place to spend more one-on-one time with Daddy or to participate without destruction.

2. I'm working on changing my curriculum perspective -- instead of thinking about all those things I think Nugget could handle at this point (landforms, bank game, etc), I'm thinking instead about what things I feel are important for a 3 year old to know. Those are more whole-person things -- playing outside, lots of free time with craft materials, early chapter books, lots of exposure to navigating the adult world (post office, grocery store, etc), and -- of course -- trying my best to patiently answer the endless endless questions.

3. I'm temporarily switching from Montessori lessons to being Montessori-inspired. For instance, the Sensorial materials are away, but I try to incorporate the three-part lesson in daily life.

4. I'm trying out some more pre-packaged curriculum options. I have to fight my nature to tweak and change -- but I need to recognize that an imperfect solution that's easy enough to implement that we actually DO it is better than a perfect one that overwhelms me and we can never use. This week we're trying out Five in a Row. Each day for 5 days you read a classic storybook (we're doing "Owl Moon") and do suggested activities for one of the focus areas -- social studies, language, art, math, science.

Writing all this out makes me feel a bit better. I still feel like a slacker, but I'm pretty convinced that I'm not damaging Nugget for life. :)
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