Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Apples, Apples Everywhere!

Miss K's Circle Time theme for this week is apples, and it's all apples, all the time around here, starting with the apples and apple cider we enjoyed during yesterday's field trip.

This morning, Miss K told the kids the story of Johnny Appleseed, and she and the kids cut open an apple, examined its core, and then discussed how seeds grow into trees that produce more apples.

On the playroom side, where Miss D manages the two-year-olds, she kept them busy with this fun apple tree activity:

How cute is that?

Our work time went so, so well today! Over the weekend, I set up the /r a m f b i t g/ portion of the language area that Laura at My Montessori Journey uses in her classroom. (Again, have I said thank you? Thank you!!)

I sat down with all of the kids (minus Miss C's son, whose brother was at home sick with a very high fever - get well soon, little guy!), and we started by playing "I Spy" again. I showed them some clipart images that I laminated (rocket, apple, monkey, fire truck) and said, "I spy something that begins with the sound /r/," etc. Then I introduced the sandpaper letter r and explained, "This is how we write the sound /r/," or, "This is the sound /r/." The kids flew through this, so I introduced a, m, and f, and then we sorted all of the laminated clipart pieces under their appropriate beginning sound:

I still haven't had time to figure out how to upload documents here, but I'll be happy to make these clipart collections available for download if anyone's interested.

Next we made red sound books for each child and glued r, a, m, and f into their books. Tomorrow I'll introduce b, i, t, and g.

Next, Miss D's son wanted to try the rice tray to practice writing the letters. (Today I switched cornmeal out for rice - I'm still trying to find the right material for this activity. The cornmeal was dusty, and no one seemed to like it. Our sandbox sand is similarly fine and dusty. The rice was OK today - I'll continue to monitor it and see what the kids' reaction to it is.) As with everything else in a small classroom such as ours, his enthusiasm was contagious, and all of the kids wanted to take turns writing letters. I was thrilled that Miss D's son wanted to try this activity, though; he's a big guy - like future-football-player big - and he has these big bear paws for hands. He tends to shy away from writing, so if he takes to this activity, I think it will be a real confidence booster for him.

Next the kids took a break for snack (including the apple they cut up during Circle Time), and then my daughter and Miss D's son worked on last week's cutting activity while Miss K's daughter worked on the numbers and counters:

Miss D's son working so hard at making very fine blades of grass

Great job!

Miss K's daughter working with the numbers and counters

As I've mentioned before, Miss K's daughter is a real builder. She took this activity out because she wanted to make towers. I told her she could make towers as soon as she was finished finding the right number of "friends" for each of the numbers. She loved it, and I was able to brag on her and use her beautiful work to give everyone a lesson on odd and even numbers.

Here she is putting her work away so she can build towers

When she started stacking the counters to make towers, it occurred to me that she might want to try building towers with the knobless cylinders. She was eager to try it, so we put the numbers and counters away and got the knobless cylinders out. No go. I had mentioned the word "cylinder," and I think she thought I was talking about the wooden cylinder blocks. She walked over to them and said, "I want to build a farm."

Here's her beautiful farm. She does all four blocks with ease now.

While Miss K's daughter was building her farm :), my daughter and Miss D's son finished the hundred board that he set aside last week. They worked together very well and finished the board quickly. This is an area where Miss D's son excels (I've mentioned before that he has a real head for numbers) but in which my daughter needs practice.

Uh oh, I see a problem...

It was so hard not to say anything! They filled in all 100 spaces before they noticed their error. Two numbers ended up switched, and much to my delight, my daughter knew very quickly how she could fix the problem! That showed me real advancement.

Next up, Miss D led Music Time. She taught the kids a song about apples, of course, and they also used instruments and movement in about 5 other songs - she does a wonderful job with this!

Finally, we introduced our Bible Verse and story for the week, "E" from My ABC Bible Verses: "Even a child is known by his deeds," Proverbs 20:11.

This was by far our best day yet!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Field Trip!

The four of us moms know each other through a local MOPS chapter, and today our MOPS group took its annual trip to Cox Farms. The Fall Festival there features hayrides, face painting, a pumpkin patch, a petting zoo, farm demonstrations, a farmer's market, etc... We decided to use the MOPS outing as a class field trip, as well:

Mums and gourds

My 2yo, Miss D, Miss D's 2yo, my 4yo, Miss D's 4yo

Me with my three girls

Two brave girls petting a very large cow. This nice lady showed the girls how to milk a cow.

Newly hatched!

The piglets were a big hit

More mums and about a million pumpkins

The kids saw cows and calves, pigs and piglets, goats and kids, hens and chicks, rabbits, bison, long-horn cattle, and tons of other stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting to mention. We were treated to apples and apple cider from the farm, and we each got our pick of sugar pumpkins on our way out. The weather was perfect - a little overcast and mid-70s - and we all had a really nice time. Back to the classroom tomorrow!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Week 4 Wrap-Up

On Wednesday, Miss C wasn't feeling well, so it was just Miss K, Miss D, and our gangs (get well soon, Miss C!). Miss K continued with her "Understanding the Calendar" theme for the week, and she enlisted the kids to help with an activity they would be doing later in the day: making calendars.

After Circle Time, I presented the Dressing Frames to the kids...and no one was really that interested. We moved on.

On Tuesday, I had shown Miss C's son the extension I made for the bead stair. I was very happy to see Miss K's daughter try it first thing Wednesday morning:

She also did the cutting activity from the day before.

My daughter worked with the movable alphabet, the stereognostic bag, and sandpaper letters...

...while Miss D's son worked with the hundred board again, among other things:

For Arts & Crafts, Miss K led the kids in painting their own calendars. It was a big project, and they got through May - we'll finish up next week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What We Did Today

Today Miss K continued with her "Understanding the Calendar" theme for Circle Time. She asked the kids about important dates they knew - their birthdays, relatives' birthdays, etc., and they flipped through a yearly calendar to find those dates. They also counted how many days remain in this year (99) and contrasted that with how many remained yesterday (100 - totally unplanned, Miss K said :).

After Circle Time, I presented this cutting activity from My Montessori Journey (again, thanks Laura!). Almost everyone wanted to try it right away, and some of the kids even did it twice!

The colored bead stair and hanger (both units and teens) are extremely popular activities in our classroom, so last night I created some extensions to go with them (corresponding coloring and handwriting sheets). I'm going to try to figure out how to upload documents, and, if I can, I'll make the extensions available for download here. Both Miss C's son and Miss D's son are big numbers guys, and they gravitate toward the Math area - the bead stairs in particular. They weren't interested in doing the extension worksheets today (although they did the stairs), so I'll present them again some other day. My daughter did the extension for the teen bead hanger, and the other kids were able to observe (and of course "absorb," as Maria Montessori would say ;) her work.

Miss K's daughter is very interested in patterns and sorting, and she spent a long time sorting colored bears and then creating patterns with them. She also did the new cutting activity twice, which took up a big portion of her morning.

Miss D's son started - and finished - the hundred board. Long before school started, his parents told me that they really encourage him to finish what he starts. About one-third of the way through the hundred board he started saying he was tired, but Miss K and I coached him through and he finished the whole thing - we were really proud of him and made sure to praise him lots and make a big fuss over him. I think he had a great sense of accomplishment when he was done.

After we wrapped up our Montessori work, Miss D led the group in Music Time. She brought everyone's favorites - rhythm sticks and shakers - which are always a huge hit. Then everyone did their jobs, we read the "D" verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses, and we had finished another day!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Back Up to Speed

Today we were very excited to welcome Miss D and her gang back to the classroom. They missed two weeks of school after Miss D's two-year-old fell and broke an arm. After a successful surgery, they were back and ready to get to work!

Miss K's Circle Time theme for the week is Understanding the Calendar. Of course, she leads the kids through the calendar each morning, but this week she's walking them through an entire year. She pointed to our classroom calendar (which shows only one month at a time) and explained that September has 30 days; then she showed them a yearly calendar and explained that each year has 12 months, each of which are made up of 28 - 31 days.

She explained that January 1 is always the first day of the year, and that December 31 is always the last day of the year. Then she helped the kids find today on the calendar, and they counted how many days remain in this year. She also took the names of the twelve months off of the classroom calendar and mixed them all up, and then she and the kids put them back in order. She sang the "months of the year" song with them to help them know the proper order.

We continued with our practice of putting a snack in the classroom after Circle Time and letting the kids help themselves when ready. This past Saturday was my daughter's fourth birthday, so today I prepared a special snack for the occasion: chocolate chip muffins and grapes. Not surprisingly, as soon as Circle Time was over, everyone wanted to eat! They ate their snacks, cleaned up, and it was time to get to work.

For our group presentation, we played "I Spy," which is used to teach kids that words are made up of sounds. I showed the kids some painted wooden objects that I got at a local craft store (man, pig, dog, sun, bus, hat, pot, hen, etc.), and then I said, "I spy something that begins with the sound /m/, /p/, /d/," and so on. The kids took turns identifying the objects and flew through this. Next I said, "I spy something that ends with the sound /n/, /s/, /t/," etc. Again, flew through this. Next, "I spy something that has the sound /a/, /o/, /e/ in it," etc. They had to think a little harder about this one, but they nailed it. The next step will be to introduce them to the letters that make these sounds. (They know most of this stuff, but I want to start at the beginning to make sure we don't skip over anything. And, they seemed to enjoy the game.)

Next the kids played this sensorial game.

Miss C's son playing 3D Feel & Find

We laid out the wooden plates (for lack of a better word) on a table and put their corresponding puzzle pieces into a bag. The kids took turns feeling the engraved/debossed part of the wooden plate, and then they reached into the bag with their eyes closed to try to find the matching puzzle piece. The surprised looks on their faces when they got a match were priceless!

The cutting activity from the very first week of school continues to be a big crowd-pleaser...

...so tomorrow I plan to put out this activity (thanks again to Laura at My Montessori Journey!).

In the pictures above, I just love the look of concentration on everyone's faces! Miss D's son (on the left in the group photo) worked so hard at cutting right on the line every time! The picture also shows my daughter doing the domino addition activity from last week.

As I mentioned, my oldest daughter had a birthday on Saturday, so we celebrated with school friends today. You can read all about a Montessori-based birthday celebration here, so I'll spare you all the details and simply say that my daughter was thrilled to get to walk around the sun four times!

We closed our classroom time with the letter "D" verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses: "Do all things without complaining and disputing," Philippians 2:14. Then, we took advantage of the beautiful weather we're having and headed to a little playground that's just up the street from our house. It was a good day!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Week 3 Wrap-Up

What a great day! Miss K was here to lead Circle Time (hooray!), and she continued her lessons on the four seasons. She led the kids in the song they've been singing all week (to the tune of "My Darling Clementine"): "There are four seasons, there are four seasons, there are four seasons in a year; spring and summer, fall and winter, there are four seasons in a year..."

Each day this week she has shown the kids a little book she made with a photo of the same tree during the different times of the year. Today she brought a bag full of clothes and let the kids take turns pulling out mittens, pants, a bathing suit, an umbrella, flip flops, fleece pajamas, rain boots, etc., and then they discussed when the kids would typically wear the various items. The kids loved taking turns pulling a different item out of the bag and being surprised at what they got - it was a great activity!

Our Independent Work time went very smoothly. My daughter has become very interested in dominoes lately, so I took a page out of Homemade Montessori's playbook and created an addition activity using dominoes up to the double six. However, yesterday my daughter had started work on the hundred board and wanted to keep it out to finish today; I told her about the domino activity and explained that she wouldn't be able to do it until she finished the hundred board. Deal, she said.

When we started our Independent Work, Miss K's daughter went straight for the dominoes on the shelf (our dominoes just happen to have color-coded dots, and they looked very colorful and pretty in the bowl I put them in). She loves to build things, and she made a bunch of neat symmetrical patterns with the dominoes while my daughter finished the hundred board:

With Miss K's daughter busy with the dominoes, and my daughter eager to finish the hundred board so she could get to the dominoes, and with Miss C's son busy with the bead stair and hanger (his current favorite activity), I scrapped my well laid plans to introduce an activity to the group. Today, though, everything worked out. As soon as my daughter finished the hundred board, Miss K's daughter wanted to give it a try, so I presented it to her while my daughter got to work on the dominoes.

I was so impressed with Miss K's daughter's work on the hundred board! She just turned three in April, and she got all the way to 30 before she wanted to do something else. The incredible thing about the hundred board is that, even if a child can't really recognize the numeral "27" as being "twenty-seven," the hundred board shows them the inherent patterns in numbers. She knew where the numbers belonged three- and four steps ahead. It was really neat to watch!

The wooden cylinders were a big draw today, with Miss K's daughter, Miss C's son, and even my 2-year-old getting in on the action. Miss K's daughter worked on all four blocks at one time:

Our decision to move snack into the classroom went pretty well. My daughter and Miss K's daughter said they were ready for a snack as soon as it was put out, so they stopped, got themselves a snack, cleaned up, and then got back to work. Miss C's son wasn't ready for a snack then, so he kept working until a little while later. There was much less of an interruption to the kids' work cycle, and I think we'll continue to do it this way in the future.

Miss C's son doing a puzzle:

At around 11:15, I had to ask the kids to put their work away (!), and Miss K led them in an Arts & Crafts activity. Miss K traced the kids' hands on brown construction paper four times, and then she cut out their hands and used them like tree trunks, which the kids then decorated according to what a tree would look like during the different seasons. It was a great activity that Miss K must have put a LOT of time into, and the kids loved it.

Miss K put each of the kids' trees together into a book so that they could each have their own book showing how the same tree changes during the four seasons.

Miss C's son's trees, before being made into a book:

We closed with letter C from My ABC Bible Verses. It was a great end to a great week!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Re-Thinking Snack-Time

Miss K has an obligation one Tuesday a month, so that left just my gang and Miss C's today. It also meant that I would be the one to lead Circle Time. Yikes.

Miss K left me extremely well prepared, providing me all the words to all the songs, even scripting an entire teaching session on the four seasons for me (thanks!). All things considered (Circle Time is definitely not one of my strengths), it went pretty well.

The kids got into a good work rhythm for about 30 minutes before saying they were hungry. Up to this point, we've stopped everything for snack-time, for several reasons. First, the kids all like to eat together (the little kids too, who aren't in the Montessori room). Second, because we eat together in the kitchen, rather than in the classroom, cleanup is very easy. Third, it just seemed pretty natural and seemed like everyone was ready for a snack at the same time.

I've had some time to think about it, though, and I think starting tomorrow we'll put snack out at a table in the Montessori room and let the kids help themselves to a snack at their own discretion.

Neglecting to Take My Own Advice

On Monday, Miss C's son had a stomach bug, so she thought it would be best to keep him away from school for the day. With Miss D's family away, that left just my troupe and Miss K's.

If you've been following our story, you'll know that I've been having a conversation with myself about how best to lead our Montessori sessions. I've come to the conclusion that our days go best when I present an activity to the group immediately after Circle Time, and then let the kids choose their own work from there. The only problem is, I keep forgetting to follow my own system. Duh.

Over the weekend, I was very busy creating the word drawers available for download here at My Montessori Journey (thank you, Laura!). This is exactly the kind of work my daughter loved to do at her old school, and I was really excited to have it out for her on Monday morning in an effort to solve this problem.

After Circle Time, during which Miss K introduced the kids to the four seasons, I immediately pulled out the word drawers and excitedly presented them to my daughter. She was thrilled! She diligently began work on Drawer 1 as I introduced the sandpaper letters and cornmeal tray to Miss K's daughter...at which time my daughter left her work to see what we were doing. After that point, it was hard to get her to go back to her own work. Lesson learned (seriously, this time). I will present new activities to the entire group, even if they are too "young" for my daughter, then I will steer her toward more appropriate work.

For our Enrichment activity, Miss K led the kids in a rousing calisthenics workout ;), then we discussed our Bible verse for the day: "C" from My ABC Bible Verses, "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord," Col 3:20.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Week 2 Wrap-Up

So, day three of our three-day school week didn't go quite as well as the previous days. I've had some time to reflect on it, and I think I can do things better next week.

For starters, after Circle Time (Miss K continued her US theme, reinforcing what she had discussed the previous two days and also reading a kid's version of the "Star Spangled Banner"), the kids very naturally chose work to do. Rather than interrupt them to introduce a new activity to the entire group, I went with it. That was my first mistake. I'm more confident now than ever that the best approach with our classroom is to work with the kids as a group immediately after Circle Time, and then let them choose their own activities.

Second, I need to finish setting up my Language area. On my shelves right now: the sandpaper letters, the movable alphabet, the metal inset stand, and that's it. Although my four-year-old likes math and enjoys the activities, she's most interested in reading and writing. When she's excited about something, she has a wonderful attitude and is extremely cooperative. I think the bulk of her complaints last week stemmed from boredom. After all, she's had a year of Montessori, and I think she's being forced to repeat some things as we get up to speed. Next week, I plan to have new activities set up with her in mind, and I'm very hopeful that things will go smoother.

Third, I plan to have a talk with my daughter and explain to her that - ONLY when we're in the classroom - she needs to work independently. When we're outside of school-time, I'm all hers, but during school, she needs to work by herself 1) because I already know these things and she needs to learn them herself (thanks Stephanie! :) and 2) because I'm the teacher, and I need to be available to help the other students. I think she'll be more cooperative if she knows that I'll work with her whenever she wants outside of class-time.

During our Independent Work time on Wednesday, Miss C's son worked with a lot of Practical Life activities, Miss K's daughter worked with the long red rods, she and my daughter worked with the numbers and counters, my daughter worked with the limited bead material, and each of them did metal inset work.

Miss C's son using a spoon to transfer split peas between two bowls:

For our Enrichment activity (which would have been PE but for Miss D's absence), Miss C led the kids in a really neat Arts & Crafts flag project that reinforced the US-themed lessons Miss K has been working on in Circle Time:

And now I'm off to get to work on my Language area!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Can You Help Me, Please?

"Can you watch me, please, Mommy?"
"Can you do it with me, please?"
"I'm tired, Mommy, can you help me put this away, please?"
"But I can't do it by myself, I need your help, please."

These were constant refrains in the classroom today, not only from my child, but also Miss K's (although to a lesser extent).

So to all you homeschooling Montessorians out there, I ask you: Can you help me, please?

How do you get your child to cooperate in a Montessori setting when you are the teacher?



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Homemade Montessori Birthday Celebration

Today is my middle daughter's second birthday, and we did our best to replicate the Montessori-style birthday celebration that my oldest daughter experienced last year when she attended Montessori.

The day started out the same as all the rest, with Miss K leading Circle Time. She and the kids updated the calendar and then went over all of the topics she introduced yesterday. We said a prayer for our little friend who broke her arm (she had surgery earlier today), and then we started our Montessori work.

I introduced the Geometric solids, and it was clear that no one was very interested. (I tried to make a game out of the solids by covering four in a basket and asking the kids to find a specific one using only their hands, but that held their interest for all of two minutes - oh well:). We moved on.

Practical Life activities were a big draw again today - I'm going to need to do a better job at rotating in new activities, because although the kids really gravitate toward them, I can tell that the current batch of activities is getting stale.

Miss K's daughter then asked if she could build the pink and brown tower - I was thrilled! If you read yesterday's post, you'll know that I'm a little unsure about my approach of introducing new activities to the group as a whole in the hopes that the kids will come back to that activity individually. I took this as a good sign.

After a pretty long work cycle, we moved on to the big birthday celebration! I made a poster with pictures of my daughter at birth, at her first birthday, and at her second birthday party (which we held this past Sunday):

Miss K and I made a sun with the 12 months radiating off of it. It wasn't this, which is what they had at my oldest daughter's school, but it worked:

We discussed the 12 months of the year, that the earth goes around the sun one time in one year, and that the earth has gone around the sun two times since my daughter was born.

I pointed out the picture of my daughter on the day she was born, then I gave her a globe to hold (again, it wasn't this, but it worked), and I helped her walk around the sun one time as we all sang (to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell"), "The Earth goes 'round the sun, the Earth goes 'round the sun, the Earth goes around the sun, and __________ turns one."

At this point I stopped her and showed everyone a picture of my daughter at her first birthday. Then I helped her walk around the sun one more time as we sang, "The Earth goes 'round the sun, the Earth goes 'round the sun, the Earth goes around the sun, and __________ turns two," and I showed the kids a picture of my daughter at her second birthday party.

Then we sang Happy Birthday and had cupcakes for a healthy snack :). Of course, the symbolism of all of this was completely lost on my two-year-old, but my older daughter clearly remembers walking around the sun three times last year and is thrilled to get to walk around the sun four times in just a couple weeks.

Today was Music day, which Miss K led in Miss D's absence. The kids sang US-themed songs to go along with their US-themed Circle Time, and then they paraded around with US flags. We closed with the "B" verse and story from My ABC Bible Verses: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God," Matthew 5:9.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Week 2

Today went well, with one teeny tiny little setback: over the weekend, Miss D's two-year-old girl fell and broke her arm and will need surgery. Bummer. We're sad for our little friend and praying for her safety during the surgery and for her full and speedy recovery.

Miss D's absence means a couple of things. First, she and her four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter will not be with us for the next two weeks. Second, she had been leading Music on Tuesdays and PE on Wednesdays. Third, she had been managing the two-year-olds, including my daughter. Without Miss D and her kids here, my two-year-old not only has no "manager," but she also has no playmate. Fortunately for everyone, my husband was home today and took our daughter with him on some errands. That was a lifesaver, because my daughter is, well, TWO, and she wants to do everything everyone else is doing, yet she also does not want to cooperate. Does that make sense? He won't be here tomorrow, though, so Miss C is going to try to keep my daughter occupied while also managing her own one-year-old and the two infants. Miss K also said she could "float" between the two rooms when things get quiet on the Montessori side. Pray for us!

Miss K started today's Circle Time with the Pledge, the National Anthem, a good morning song, and a months of the year/days of the week song. She reviewed the calendar (today is _____, yesterday was _______, tomorrow will be _________). [I'm flying through this part, but she does a really great job with this, asking in turn, "Tomorrow is Tuh-tuh-Tuesday, can you find Tuh-tuh-Tuesday and put it on the calendar?"]

After she had reviewed the calendar, Miss K led the kids through this week's Circle Time theme, which is the United States of America. She showed the kids a globe, the US, the fifty states, where we live, states where relatives live, etc. She showed the kids the US flag, discussed its colors, and then read them a kids' version of the Pledge so they could get a feel for what the Pledge actually means: "I promise to respect the flag..."

Next it was time to begin Independent Work. My approach to Independent Work has not been so independent thus far. Here's how I've been going about things (I'd love to hear any opinions/comments on this system): Each day at the beginning of Independent Work, I've been introducing the kids to a new Sensorial activity as a group. For example, on Day 2 we did the pink tower, brown stair, and pink and brown tower extension as a group. Today we did Color Boxes 1, 2, 3, and 4 as a group (more on that in an upcoming post). It's been going well. The children work together SOOO nicely, sharing and taking turns. The younger kids stick around for the "basic" (for lack of a better term) part of the presentation before very naturally moving on to Practical Life activities, and then my 4-year-old daughter, who has had a year of Montessori, usually tries an extension. I think this is a good way to introduce the kids to the various activities in the classroom, and then they can come back to them whenever they wish. Thoughts?

After we did Color Boxes 1 - 3, my daughter tried an extension with Color Box 4 while Miss C's and Miss K's three-year-olds did Practical Life activities: cutting, sorting, tonging, spooning, etc. My four-year-old also worked on the Limited Bead Material, Miss K's daughter worked with the Wooden Cylinders again, and she and Miss C's son worked with the Ten Bead Stair and Hanger.

The kids had a nice work cycle today. My daughter started to get a little antsy, and I looked at my watch and was shocked to see that it was 11:00. I steered them toward their snack, which led nicely into their Enrichment activity. Monday is Arts & Crafts day, so Miss K had the kids make cards for Miss D's daughter, who will have surgery tomorrow :(. We actually forgot to close the day with a story from My ABC Bible Verses (this week we'll do letter B), so we'll introduce that tomorrow.

I didn't get a ton of pictures today, but here's quick glimpse into our classroom:

Circle Time

Ten Bead Stair and Hanger

Limited Bead Material

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Day Two!

Dare I say it?, I think Day Two went even better than yesterday.

As we did yesterday, we started off the morning with Circle Time, only today the two-year-olds joined us. Simply for logistical reasons, we do Circle Time in the Montessori room (it's the best place to keep the calendar, and because the calendar has 31-plus magnets that need to travel with it, it's not easy to transport... We may rethink this one); later in the day, though, we do our Enrichment activity and Bible verse/story in the playroom, and the two-year-olds get to do it with us. They loved being with us yesterday, so today we thought we'd try to incorporate them into Circle Time, knowing full-well that they would be hard to remove from the Montessori room once Independent Work-time rolled around. Miss D has spearheaded the two-year-olds' day, and she felt confident that she'd be able to extract them with few or no tears. (I hope to be able to bring them into the Montessori room in the coming months, but for now they're just a little too young [particularly my middle daughter, who will just be turning two next week].)

Circle Time was more hectic with them there but still a lot of fun (once again, Miss K did a great job leading them). With only minor gnashing of teeth, Miss D was able to get the two-year-olds back to the playroom to start their activities, and then the three- and four-year-olds got to work.

I worked with Miss D's four-year-old son, my four-year-old daughter, and Miss K's three-year-old daughter on the pink tower and then the brown stair, and then they built a pink and brown tower. (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any pics of this.)

My daughter asked to build a maze from the long red rods while Miss D and Miss K's kids were engrossed in yesterday's cutting activity and Miss C's three-year-old son worked on puzzles.

Building a maze with the long red rods

Slowly, slowly...

...all the way to the end!

Miss D's son took a turn

Miss C's son doing the knobless cylinders (is it me, or is he just beaming?:)

Miss K's daughter working with the wooden cylinders

It was interesting to see how she did this work. To begin working with the cylinders, the child removes all of the cylinders from the large wooden blocks and places them on the rug in random order. So far, all the kids I've seen do this have picked up a cylinder at random and found its home. Miss K's daughter, however, surveyed the randomly-laid pieces closely and picked them up/put them back in the wooden blocks in order from left to right.

We spent about an hour on Independent Work, which I hope will expand to an hour-and-a-half as time goes on. Today, though, the kids were ready for a snack; they really enjoy eating together, so we stopped.

Snack time led very well into Enrichment time. Today is Wednesday, which is our PE day. Miss D had great activities planned, including bean bag tosses, hot potato, penguin-walking with the bean bags, the hokey pokey, etc. It was a brilliant, sunny day here and the kids were clamoring to play tag, which they did in the front yard for all of ten minutes before complaining about how hot and tired they were :).

Then it was time for clean up and our Bible verse/story of the week (same as yesterday's).

And that's it for this week - our school meets on M, T, W, so this is a short week because of the holiday. It was definitely a good start, and I'm excited to see what next week brings!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

And We're Off!

After much planning and anticipation, the first day of school has finally come and gone. With a big sigh of relief, I think I can say it went really well!

We stuck fairly close to the structure we had outlined before school started, and the day flowed very nicely.

First we had Circle Time. For this part of our day, the two-and-youngers played in one room while the three-and-olders had Circle Time in the classroom (formerly our formal living room/dining room, which we never used):

Miss K (the former kindergarten teacher) led the children in the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, and then they went through the calendar and discussed the days of the week, the months of the year, the day's weather, the season, etc.:

Miss K leading the kids in The Pledge

After Circle Time, I demonstrated how the children would use their rugs (we laid our rugs out on the floor and walked in circles around them, then we played Follow the Leader while snaking through all the rugs) and how to carry a tray.

A nice rug shot :)

Showing the kids how to carry a tray was a nice way to get them all to a table with some table work, which they did diligently:

Miss K's 3yo doing the cutting work described here at My Montessori Journey (thank you!)

My 4yo doing the cutting work

Miss D's 4yo doing tong work

Miss C's 3yo doing a puzzle

Then the kids moved on to some rug work (I didn't get a lot of pictures here):

Miss D's 4yo with the wooden cylinders

Around the same time, the kids got hungry, so we took a break for snack, which all of the kids (even the little ones) ate together. After snack, it was time for our Music lesson, which Miss D, the former band teacher, led for all of the kids. She brought a tub-full of instruments, like shakers, tambourines, and rhythm sticks, and the kids played along to rhythmic songs.

They also did some songs that incorporated movement, counting, the days of the week, etc. This went really well, because as soon as the kids started to get antsy, Miss D would pull out a new instrument, which immediately got them re-focused.

Next was clean-up time and jobs. The kids fed the fish and the frog, and then they used a Swiffer to clean up the hard surfaces and a carpet sweeper to clean up the carpet. I shortened the handles on both (simply by removing one section of each handle's pole), which made them more kid-sized. I chose a Swiffer instead of a broom because even the two-year-olds can push a Swiffer, and they really enjoyed helping out.

Finally, we did one letter, A, from My ABC Bible Verses. It's a really nice book that teaches kids one Bible verse for each letter of the alphabet. Today's verse was Proverbs 15:1, "A soft answers turns away wrath."

In all, it was a good first day!