Monday, July 18, 2011

Supplementing math

Math has been going ok with Nugget. She's got the golden beads down pat, we've done an introduction to golden bead addition, worked with the hundred board a few times, used the number rods to find the various combinations that made numbers from 1-10, and formed teens with beads. She did the work readily enough... asked to "do math" during homeschool time... but wasn't really taken with it.

The other day, a post by Laura (formerly of My Montessori Journey, now of Walnut Hill Homeschool) got me looking at Right Start Mathematics. It's a math program written by a Montessori teacher, but not a traditional Montessori progression. It emphasizes understanding over memorization and working problems mentally (using an abacus as an aide in the beginning). I was really taken with it because it teaches solving problems the way I've learned to do it but NOT how I was taught. Things like "seeing" the numbers up to 5 instead of counting them, learning 6-10 as 5 plus something else, and adding larger numbers by "making 10".

I fell so in love with it that I bought levels A and B (used). We're going to combine it with elements of Montessori to make something that works for Nugget -- and really engages her. I want her to see math as puzzles and patterns instead of just columns of numbers. Yes, memorization of basic facts has its place. But a lot of that comes free with practice (and with the math games that are included with Right Start). I want to make sure she sees the fun and beauty and usefulness in math first.

To that end, I've made sure to watch some of Vi Hart's mathematical doodling videos with Nugget peeking over my shoulder. It's worked -- we've spent the last couple of days drawing "math pictures" on a huge sheet of paper and playing "math games" to color them in.

This is the math that I love!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Our reading program is clicking!

It's been a little over a month since we started using "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons". It was a slow slog in the beginning, but Nugget was happy to do it every day because it was really just a review of the letter sounds she already knew. When we started to move more into actually reading words, it got harder and she wasn't as enthusiastic. But we stuck with it. And she was doing great! Sounding out words really well. Then the book started emphasizing reading things "the fast way" to start with, and it got tougher. I could tell she was bumping up against her limit.... but I could also see that she almost had it. She resisted pretty strongly for a couple days, we had to repeat one lesson because we stopped in the middle of it.... but then something clicked. And now she really is reading!

It's still pretty basic stories ("We see a duck. We can sit in the sun with that duck. It is fun in the sun."). But she finally seems to be realizing that she can do it. We've worked our way through "Hop on Pop" (with her reading or remembering most of the words, and me helping as necessary), and she's showing an interest in the words around her.

I've decided to start adding in some other reading work to bolster what she's gotten from "Teach Your Child to Read....". Today we started in on the first unit from The Moffatt Girls. I like that it gives her more practice with the sight words that we're already seeing in our phonics book. It's also a nice change -- where "Teach Your Child to Read...." is black-and-white, lesson-on-lesson, this is more like a program you'd see in school with coloring, pasting, singing, etc. Nugget gets a kick out of that sort of thing (although it also distracts her, which is one reason why "Teach Your Child to Read...." has been so effective, if not the most exciting thing).

Can I just say how happy I am that camp is over? She's so much more interested and engaged today, instead of being so drained. We did a ton of homeschool while Sprout was napping, and she's still going strong! In fact, right now she's writing and illustrating her first story!!

"I see a cat."

(Boy, do we need to get moving on that handwriting program! LOL)

Sunday, July 3, 2011


I've started incorporating another non-Montessori material into our curriculum -- Handwriting Without Tears. Nugget has recently developed an obsession with a wipe-off tracing book that we got her that shows letter formation, and she's been writing her name on her art projects. I love the jump, but I noticed that she wasn't getting very good direction from the tracing book -- for instance, she was making her "X" out of 2 'v's (one right-side up, one upside-down). So I picked up the preschool and kindergarten curriculums of Handwriting Without Tears. We've just started -- doing some crayon grip & scribble exercises as well as playing around with the letter shapes (I didn't buy the wooden ones; the teacher's guide has a pattern and I used craft foam).

This makes 3 core subjects for us. Phonics (via "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons"), we do every day FIRM. We're up to lesson 30-something and she's reading two sentence stories in the book. Handwriting I'll be trying to get to every day or every other day, depending on how things are going. Math (following the Montessori progression, currently working on teens formation, the hundred board, and addition with the golden beads and number rods) I try to get to 3-5 times a week.

Last week and this week, Nugget has been attending an art camp at a local Montessori school. It's from 9am-1pm, and she comes home pretty drained emotionally. Because of that, I've backed us off to _just_ phonics on camp days.

We did math today, but it's the first time in a week. She did the hundred board solo (well, with Buzz Lightyear's help). She's been wanting me to "count to the speed limit" or "count to 100" in the car all the time lately, so I figured the hundred board would hit her right in the sensitive period. :) There was quite a push there at the end to make it all the way through, but she did it! (Just in time, too -- Sprout woke up from his nap not a minute later.)

Teen bead worksheet

I added a file to my (accessible from the side of this page). We're working on making teens, so I made this coloring/stamping worksheet for Nugget. There are 2 styles; in each, you build the teen from a 10 bar and the bead stair, color the bead stair bar, then stamp (or write) the resulting teen. Hope it's helpful to someone!
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