M pulled out her basket of geometric solids, so we reviewed the names of each of the solids and used the labels to read and match with each solid. Since it was clear that she knew them all, I sent her on an object hunt around the apartment to see if she could find something to match each solid. She was able to find most of them, but a few were definitely tricky! We couldn't find a square-based pyramid, so she decided to mold one out of play-doh.
M is very much still on a reading kick. She says she enjoys math, but doesn't usually choose math work on her own. We have tried a few different things, including introducing this math journal, to make the math work a little more fun for her. Today, I wrote addition problems on cardstock strips and she used her colored bead bars to find the sums. She copied the problems into her math journal.
M has been cycling back to some work she already mastered (mainly Practical Life and Sensorial) because her little sister is showing interest. H (15 months) likes to carry the heavy brown stair prisms across the room, so M decided to demonstrate the *proper* use of the brown stair.
Starting with the knobbed
cylinders (demonstrating for little sis).
Math - This work took a LONG time to complete. M has been slowly
gaining confidence in recognizing larger numbers, and she has wanted to attempt
the hundred board again after giving up about half way the last time. My only
guidance was getting her started grouping the numbers. I think it would be good
to add some labels (0-10, 11-20, etc) to remind her to do that on her own,
otherwise she spreads the tiles out randomly and can't find the numbers she's
looking for. Even after sorting, it took a lot of concentration to complete the
board, and she was extremely proud of herself at the end!
Have you noticed that we've been working with the golden beads a lot lately? I can not stress enough how thankful I am that we backtracked and worked through the golden beads sequence from the beginning. M went from total frustration and wanting nothing to do with math, to choosing math first almost every day!
I reviewed the tens board presentation, and we built the quantities from 10 to 99 to match the numerals on the board. M mostly watched (I offered to let her take over, but she wanted to see me do it).
The Magic School Bus Young Scientist's Kit on Acids and Bases couldn't have come at a more perfect time! We just finished exploring the digestive system, which of course included a discussion on stomach acid. So what exactly IS an acid? Are there different kinds of acids? Are acids dangerous? We explored these questions and more as M worked her way through this exciting kit!
This was another fun week with a few scheduled field trips and lots of progress on our new house. M did her own planning this week. She requested to learn about the digestive system, and told me about an experiment she saw online that she wanted to try. She also chose to do lots of reading and spelling work this week, and she finished several lessons in her reading book, as well as reading some new books. We also worked on telling time and counting money.
We were driving to the grocery store, and M starts telling me about a science experiment that involves crackers, coke and a ziplock bag. She tells me that she wants to try this experiment and learn about the stomach. Well, you don't turn down a kid when they ask to learn something new, right?? So we added coke to the grocery list and I started researching as soon as we got home.
I decided to start a new series of posts with observations of my toddler. (Toddler??!! Can that be right??) She is 13 months now, and is a little ball of energy. She is gaining new skills every day, so I will use these posts to record pictures and observations of what she has been up to for the past month.
As I've been saying for the past few weeks, we're struggling with setting up a schedule. We're in limbo right now because we're between houses and we don't have all of our belongings (a good bit is in storage). Since this is a short-term housing situation, we are trying to make do rather than spend the time and money to really set up the space to meet our needs.
We spent most of this week learning about volcanoes! We have explored volcanoes in the past when we did a unit on dinosaurs, but M is older now and was interested in learning about the parts of a volcano and understanding what causes a volcano to erupt.
This was a busy week for house construction, so we took it easy with planned "school" days and focused on learning through experience. We still had two co-op days, which were based on physical science and chemistry this week.
I'm continuing to use the same work plan to keep M on track throughout the week, but I plan to print a new version for next week. I may change the format to use push pins or stickers instead of the paper clips because the clips tend to slide on the laminated paper.
We continued with "Young Chefs" camp, and I added a few new materials to M's shelves. M also received the second kit from the Magic School Bus Young Scientist's Club. I have several of these kits that I modified and used with my high school science classes when I was teaching, and I was excited when a friend passed along a great deal on the annual membership for this club. I put away the first kit (on volcanoes) for next week to prepare for our science camp, so we jumped ahead to this month's kit - The Secrets of Space (affiliate link). I really like getting the monthly kits because it has a wide range of activities, most of the materials are included, and it helps me narrow down which science theme to pursue that month.
This week was the start of the "Little Chefs" camp for our co-op. We also got in an order of new materials from IFIT, including two sets of bells, and we planned a field trip with friends to the Upcountry History Museum.
In addition to those planned activities, I printed our first attempt at a work plan based on the post by What DID we do all day? I decided to go with daily and weekly options so we could reset it at the end of each week. I will probably play around with the subjects listed until we find something that we're comfortable with, but this was a good start. M really likes moving the paper clips from one side to the other as she completes her work, and she likes having the chart to look at to see what her options are for the day.
I'm continuing to use the planning sheets I created (find the download here). I like that I can see all of the subject areas at once, and I don't have to plan by the day (since I know I won't stick to a day-by-day plan). I do want to add a couple more long-term planning sheets to help guide me with material making and to make sure we are making progress in all subject areas.
Next week I want to try incorporating a bit of a work plan to encourage M to do some work independently. I really like the format described in this post about work plans from What DID we do all day? I'm going to try to make something similar, including the daily work and "other" work (which will probably be weekly to get us started until I can figure out a good rhythm). The "work period" is more like several shorter chunks of time added together throughout the day, and a work plan would be helpful in documenting the work that has been done, and acting as a visual reminder to M of what work she has available to choose from.
Day 6 - Monday
Sewing, sewing, sewing! I have been meaning to start reading "Sewing in the Montessori Classroom," (affiliate link) which was recommended to me by another mom. I finally started it and pulled together a few intro activities, and WOW! I had no idea that this would be such a hit!
M has done lacing cards and has made tons of bracelets and necklaces, so we skipped ahead to the actual sewing activities. I started by hole punching some construction paper and card stock (definitely recommend the card stock over construction paper!). I folded the construction paper in half, then hole punched through the front and back so the holes would line up. I showed M how to pull the yarn through the hole from bottom to top to whipstitch the edges. She thought this was great! When she finished, she thought it looked like a frame, so she drew a self-portrait in the middle.
She asked for more sewing work, so I punched holes around the border of some scrap card stock, and she made a cute bookmark to decorate. She wanted MORE, so I punched holes in the shape of numbers and showed her how to use running stitch to follow the pattern. We will definitely be adding more sewing work to our shelves next week!
Next, we continued our work with the golden beads. I used a thick headband as a blindfold and had her identify the unit, ten bar, hundred square, and thousand cube by touch.
When she finished, I did a presentation on the relationship of materials. (10 units = 1 ten bar, 10 ten bars = 1 hundred square, etc.)
We have been talking a lot about calendars and time lately (we're building a new house, so we discuss the schedule of construction). I wanted to check her understanding of concepts of time, so we started with the broad concept of seasons. I printed a set of 3-part cards from my KHT album, and she matched them and put them in order starting with our current season. I read the extra information on the back of the cards, including the typical weather, what you might wear, and examples of activities for each season.
We spent the afternoon at the Children's Museum. The new Japan exhibit was great, and was definitely the favorite part of the day for M. As their website explains, "Kawaii Central is a streetscape inspired by Tokyo's bustling Harajuku district, bursting with color, trendy shops and cuter than cute kawaii styles. Kids sing karaoke, smile for the photo booth camera, serve up a seasonal Japanese meal, and design adorable mascots for their families. The beautiful, natureal Shinto shrine park invites children to build a bridge, crawl through a forest, encounter kami spirits, and make a wish at a wishing tree. Together the exhibit highlights how old and new traditions coexist in Japan, giving visitors a family-friendly window into Japanese culture."
In addition, she painted in the Art Studio ("rainbow in sunset") and made an origami cat.
Day 7 - Tuesday
Last Tuesday we received our Painted Lady Caterpillars (affiliate link). I made the mistake of getting too many critters at the same time, and M found the tadpoles and earthworms more interesting than the caterpillars. I have to admit that the caterpillars in the jar aren't as interesting as the caterpillars on a plant (we got monarchs last year that a friend brought back from a butterfly garden in North Carolina).
Anyway, we left the caterpillars at co-op over the weekend, and returned to find five chrysalises hanging from the lid of the container. We made cute butterfly life cycle collages using different types of pasta glued to this template from The Art of Teaching.
The kids colored pictures to go with the poem "Butterfly, Butterfly" by Jan Warren and assembled them into a little book.
We wrapped up by starting our fairy gardens. The kids filled baskets (lined with pieces of trash bag) with soil, planted a couple of annuals, and added blue aquarium stones to make "ponds" for their fairy friends. M brainstormed other features she wanted to add to her garden. She drew and labeled pictures of all the furniture and decorations the fairies would need in their house.
When we got home, M wanted to do a lesson from her reading book. We use The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (affiliate link) to introduce new sounds, then practice with phonogram folders, readers, and other sound games. I absolutely love this book! The lessons are short (1-2 pages), but provide just enough practice to introduce the new sound. I also really like how the lessons build as you progress through the book, so there is built in practice to reinforce previous lessons. Today, M completed Lesson 91, which reviewed the vowel pair "ea" and introduced the sight words "do" and "who."
Day 8 - Wednesday
On Tuesday afternoon, we received a shipment of new materials from IFIT International, including this operations felt mat. M has just started working with the golden beads, and she thought this mat was great. She pulled out her golden beads right after breakfast and starting placing beads in the columns. She counted the beads, exchanged when necessary, and found the number tiles to match the quantity she had put out.
Later, we took a walk in a large field adjacent to our apartment complex. We recently read "A Fairy Festival Surprise" by Kimberly Gallagher, one of the books in the Herb Fairies series. The book discusses some of the uses of the plantain plant, and we found tons of plantain in the field. We found several other plants that we attempted to identify using the PlantNet app. My favorite was a gorgeous purple flower that turned out to be a passion fruit plant, and M's favorite was the tall, purple stems and small green and white flowers of the pokeweed plant. This led to a discussion of poisonous plants, and we talked (again) about why we always make sure we know what a plant is before we touch it, and definitely before we eat it.
Day 9 - Thursday
On our last day of "Nature Explorers," the girls finished their fairy garden baskets. I prepared burlap rectangles and brought several different colors of yarn and yarn needles. The kids learned running stitch, and created their own designs to make beds, blankets, or hammocks for their fairies.
After a short presentation on land forms (island and lake), the kids chose their own work for the remainder of the morning. M tried out the new teen bead bar hanger, then worked with a friend on the hundred board.
When we got home, we reviewed the long "e" sound and practiced spelling words with the "ea" vowel pair. I made new printable movable alphabets in different colors (a full set of black, red and green) using a file from Montessori Print Shop. We used the red alphabet for the "ea" vowel pair to isolate it, and use the black letters to spell the rest of the word.
Her new Highlights High Five magazine came in the mail (thanks Gigi!), so we spent the next hour reading the stories (most of which she can read by herself!), playing games, and cutting and assembling the pull out story book.
We got a little extra exercise by swimming for an hour before dinner. M is making a lot of progress with her swimming skills, and can swim independently without her life vest now. She wants me to teach her breast stroke next week.
Day 10 - Friday
I set up several trays for M on Friday morning for her to work on while I put the baby down for a nap. She was able to do a few of the activities independently, and waited for me to come back to work on the rest.
She looked through her Herb Fairies "Keeper's Journal" with information, pictures, coloring pages, and stories about plantain. She copied the scientific name for plantain and drew a picture of the plant. We later talked about what "parallel" means, and compared the pictures to the leaves we found in the field on Wednesday.
Next, she did some calendar work. She put days of the week cards in order from Sunday to Saturday (reading the cards on her own), and checked her work by comparing to the control card.
She also made her own calendar for the month of June. I printed blank calendar templates, filled one out with the dates for this month, and laminated mine as the control. She took another blank calendar sheet and copied the numbers from the control onto her sheet. Then, she read a set of command cards I made with statements such as "Draw a star on Father's Day (June 21)" and "Count all the Mondays in June."
She really liked this activity, and I think I'll repeat this each month. It was really easy to put together, and it allowed her to practice handwriting (copying the month and dates), counting (writing numbers in order), reading (command cards), calendar skills (identifying days of the week, finding dates on a calendar, finding today, yesterday, tomorrow, etc) and math skills (count how many days are left in the month, finding numerals).
She wanted to repeat the spelling work from the day before, so I added some "sh" words and had her sort the objects and then spell their names using the red and black movable alphabets.
When she finished, she asked to do another reading lesson from OPG, so we worked through Lesson 92 ("ie" vowel pair and sight word "friend") and Lesson 93 (Review of long-e vowel pairs).
Finally, she chose to complete the hundred board while I packed the diaper bag to head to Asheville for my dad's birthday.
We'll end the week with this shot of the first butterfly emerging from its chrysalis!
Successes and Challenges
Successes this week -
Encouraging M to do independent work - sewing, Herb Fairies, hundred board, etc.
Following the strong interest in reading (requests for reading lessons, spelling work)
Clearing toys out of the main area of M's bedroom to create a work space that won't be disturbed by her little sister.
Challenges this week -
Still don't have a solid block of time as a work period. I need to provide more work that she can do on her own while I put H down for nap, then use nap time for presentations.
Still need to come up with a system to help M better utilize the materials at co-op. She asked to work with the teen board on Friday, but that is stored at co-op. Maybe I could take photos of the shelves at co-op and help her to look over the options before we go.
Feeling scattered. I like the planning sheet I'm using because it doesn't overwhelm me with an excessive number of lessons to prep. However, I don't feel like I have a clear vision of the big picture. I want to think about some long term planning, or possibly just create a list of topics that I would like to present at some point this year so I have goals to guide our progress.
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