Sunday, June 26, 2011

Facebook group established

Please join me! On Facebook, search "[redacted -- see below]" and request to join the group. Please post a comment here if you have any trouble! Also, feel free to invite anyone else who's doing Montessori methods in the home environment.

Edited to add: Since a couple of groups came up when searching that name, I changed the name to "Montessorian Moms". Give that a shot!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Facebook group?

Here's a crazy thought. Would anyone be interested in joining a Facebook group for those of us doing Montessori at home? I know there are days when I have a question but don't have anyone else doing what I am who I could ask.

I'd be happy to set up the group if there's any interest!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Homemade materials

Hundred board:

I'd been wanting to make a homemade hundred board for a long time, but had been putting it off. I couldn't figure out in my head how to make it good enough. Finally, one of my endless Google searches turned up a reference to using tiles from the home improvement store. Lightbulb! I went to Lowe's and bought a sheet of 144 small glass tiles. They peeled easily off the backing, and I used a Sharpie to write the numbers on each.

For the board, I took a leftover piece of flannel and sewed straight lines to delineate where the tiles should be placed. This turned out to be a fabulous solution, because I can roll or fold up the board for storage, and the tiles don't slip at all when on the board.

I'm storing the tiles in an old silicon muffin tin that fits perfectly into one of my trays.

Of note is that I decided, instead of going from 1-100, to go from 0-99. I think it makes more sense to start each row with the next 10 group. However, Nugget was disappointed not to have a "100" tile at the end.... so I made one up for her quickly, and told her that her reward for counting to 100 was that she got to put this 100 tile into a small cup on the shelf. Every time she gets to 100, she can put a new 100 tile into the cup. That way, she can see how many times she's completed the hundred board.

Now, this was probably presented to her a bit early. We hadn't worked yet with making 11-99 with the bead stair. But I had the material sitting out, and she found it.... Even though it was a bit early, she was able to complete it with some encouragement from me. It's a lot of work!

Hundred squares:

When I purchased our materials, I only bought 10 hundred squares. I figured I could make that work, but I had forgotten that I needed enough to do regrouping of hundred squares into thousand cubes. I thought about putting in an order, but ended up needing the extra hundred squares before I made up my mind.

I did a lot of thinking about how to make homemade hundred squares, but once I thought to use foam core for the material, I knew that was the right answer. It's lightweight like the squares that I have and easy to cut to the right size.

Figuring out how to make the dots was the hard part. I tried using paint and applying it different ways (eraser, brush, q-tip, etc), but it blobbed and didn't look good. Plus -- painting hundreds and hundreds of small dots?! No thank you. I finally decided to just print out some sheets of dots and spray glue them on. It wasn't the look I was going for in the beginning, but it worked out well enough.

Bead stair tray:

This is a pretty simple one. I had a bead stair but no tray. Another thing I thought I could do without, but once we started to use it, I realized we really needed to be able to lay out the stair in order and not have it roll away. This is just foam core again, one sheet on the bottom and one with a triangle cut out glued on top of it.


Nugget has a strong interest in animals, and it's been a common topic of discussion around our house if an animal is a mammal, reptile, bird, etc. I decided to show her a bit more formally how we classify things and where these divisions came from.

To start with, I printed off some pictures. Four each of non-living, plant, invertebrate, mammal, fish, bird, amphibian, and reptile. I took a bit piece of felt and drew a graph on it.

At the top, we separate living from non-living.

We take the living and separate plant from animal.

Then the animals are split into invertebrate and vertebrates.

And, finally, the vertebrates are split into bird, fish, reptile, amphibian, and mammal.

For even more interest, I also put out a selection from our Safari Toobs.

Some of these animals end up "helping" with the rest of the Montessori work. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Slowly easing back in

Four months ago: I was feeling lost. Sprout had drained all of my mental resources. We'd dropped formal school time for Nugget a while back, but I was still trying to work out themes or units of study. Things were feeling scattered, I wasn't dealing well with the demand it placed on my time and energy, and the thought that I had to write something good up for the blog was stressing me out. So I closed up shop for a while, we dropped any pretense of "doing school", and just ... played. Asked and answered questions. Did experiments. Went places. Joined a laid-back homeschool group.

Now: Nugget is 4, Sprout is 14 months. I'm still drained by the demands of having a toddler, but at least I'm sleeping better (maybe not through the night, but better!) and my husband can whisk him off for an hour or so to give Nugget and I some one-on-one time.

With the end-of-year curriculum sales and conversations, my husband and I had been doing a lot of talking about the direction we're going to take when Nugget reaches kindergarten age (officially, fall 2012). We looked over the standards for our state, wrote out our own ideal curriculum, and reviewed boxed curricula.

At the same time, we were looking for a summer camp opportunity for Nugget. We found a fabulous program at the local Montessori school, offering a half-day art history camp for a few weeks. When Nugget and I went in after the school day to drop off the paperwork, her eyes lit up. When the guide heard that we did Montessori-inspired homeschooling, she invited Nugget to take a look at and work with a material or two. Nugget was in heaven. In fact, she didn't want to leave. There were tears!!

I was feeling inspired by our homeschool discussions and research, and motivated by Nugget's overwhelming desire to "do homeschool". However, I was wary of getting in too deep again. I feel strongly that we homeschool for the flexibility and the chance to experience things in the real world, not the classroom. So we decided to come at things a bit differently this time. We're using a mix of methods. I have no expectation of a "work cycle", how long we "should" be in the room, or of Nugget doing her work independently. I even incorporate her stuffed animals in some of the work. Homeschool time is a chance for us to have one-on-one time together -- and ENJOY it.

Here's our areas of concentration:

1. Reading. This is the only thing I make sure we do every day, but it only takes a couple of minutes. I'm not a fan of the traditional pink/green/blue Montessori program, and a try of Hooked on Phonics didn't work for us. Right now, we've settled on "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". It's not the most interesting thing in the world, but the lessons go quickly and it seems to be clicking with her.

2. Math. I love Montessori math. Love love love. Nugget is blowing through the early golden bead material, including the bank game; we're about to start addition. Today, she completed the hundred board!

3. Science. My husband and I love science. Science comes up every day around here -- weather, dinosaurs, habitats, health.... We're going to be following Nugget's interests, answering questions and finding things in everyday life to notice and study. Most of our focus will be on earth science and animal studies, though. We have done a few things in the school setting -- a discussion of natural selection and some work on taxonomy.

4. History and culture. These will come later, but we have some ideas for areas we want to cover in the next 2 years.

5. Sensorial. Nugget has never had the most interest in the Sensorial activities. I'm putting a few out on the shelves, and she does them because she hasn't seen them in a while. But they don't hold a lot of interest for her. The most interesting thing for her was building the red rod maze. But she hasn't even touched her previous favorites, the cylinder blocks.

Now Nugget? She's THRILLED. I haven't asked her to do homeschool a single day -- she's always the one who brings it up. She works through all the materials I ask her to do and chooses a bunch more. She's very much developmentally ready for the work we've been doing, so she's interested in it and finds it easy to handle.

I'm keeping our classroom area small -- just 2 shelves. I'm rotating a lot more and just keeping less out. We spend 10-45 minutes a day in the room, varying a lot depending on what our day is like and how into things Nugget is. I do a phonics lesson every day and some sort of math (these days it's golden beads, teens and tens nomenclature, or number rod addition). Anything else is up to her to chose (she's really into the metal insets right now; in fact, she's been in there for 20 minutes after I left, doing more).

As for the blog.... I don't think I'll go away for this long again. But I won't be as regular as I was before, either. I'll probably pop over here to mention any new homemade materials or if things are going particularly well or particularly poorly. It's nice to have a place to write things out and work them through in my head.

Wait, what can this be?.....

I'm feeling like I might want to pop in here with an update in a bit.
Site Meter