Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sewing, Butterflies and Fairy Gardens

Week 2 of kindergarten!


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

While the kids glued, I read the Dr. Seuss book My, Oh My -- A Butterfly! (affiliate link). We went upstairs to observe the chrysalises, and matched these Life Cycle miniatures (affiliate link) to the butterfly life cycle nomenclature cards from The Helpful Garden.

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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