Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Exception Words

I recently posted about wanting to make sight word drawers for my oldest daughter. I consider sight words to be those peculiar words in the English language that cannot be sounded out phonetically and must be memorized (in other words, recognized on "sight"), such as one, two, once, what, the, etc. I did some research into sight words, and I kept coming across the Dolch word list, which is a list of the 220 words that appear most frequently in the English language. The theory behind the Dolch list is that if a child can memorize those 220 words, they'll be able to recognize (and therefore "read") 50 - 70 percent of the words that appear in books. After going through the list, though, I quickly realized that it wasn't what I needed at all. The list is made up of high frequency words, so it includes simple phonetic words like cat, bed, ran, had, has, got, on, etc. I guess the Dolch list is used in schools that don't teach phonics?

Anyway, after doing a bit more research, I realized that what I actually needed was a list of "exception words," or words that defy simple phonics. I made this list into a table, and then I cut and laminated everything. You can download a .pdf of the table I made here. If you would like to add/remove items from the list, you can download a Word version of it here. My list is a little different than the one I found online, just because I took some words off (not really ready to go into Nazis with my four-year-old yet), but you can always go through the list and amend my Word version of the table as you like.

Coming soon...the farm!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Materials, Beads, and Printers

Koko's Mama emailed me with some questions, and I hope she won't mind if I use this forum to answer them, because they may be helpful to others, as well.

First, she said:

I purchased from IFIT and Adena, but I was wondering about Alison's.

To date, I have bought all of our materials from Montessori Outlet, so I don't have any experience with IFIT, Adena, or Alison's. You can read more about our materials here.

Next, she asked:

I was seriously thinking about [buying] the bead cabinet. Is this something you are thinking about too or do you think there are cheaper/better options out there that teach similar concepts?

This is something I've been thinking about a lot. We're at a crossroads right now, and we need to decide whether to stick with Montessori or start with a new curriculum. I love, love, love Montessori teaching methods, particularly the math manipulatives. We have the hundred chain and thousand chain, and we have hundred squares and thousand cubes, but we don't have the bead cabinet yet (units 1 - 9 and 10). If I decide to make another big purchase of Montessori materials, the bead cabinet will be the first thing on my list. One thing I've noticed while shopping around for them: different suppliers use different colors of beads, so if you want all of your beads to be the same color, be sure to buy all of your bead materials from one source.

As for cheaper/better options, I haven't explored any yet, but I've heard a lot about Math U See. Anyone else out there know much about it?

Finally, Koko's Mama asked:

What color printer do you recommend? I look at everything you download and since I don't have a color printer as of yet, I wonder if you are happy with yours.

We have a Canon Pixma 620 that my husband bought for super-cheap on Black Friday, and so far I've been very happy with it. It's a photo printer, but it's also a regular printer. Office Depot and Staples periodically run buy one/get two free (!!) deals on photo paper, and that's the paper I use when I print out picture-heavy materials. Otherwise, I just use regular paper. I try to laminate everything (I have a Scotch-brand thermal laminator that I bought brand new off craigslist for $10. It was a bulk version originally purchased from Costco, so it came with a bunch of laminating sheets.)

Hope that helps! If any of you have any comments/suggestions for Koko's Mama, please feel free to leave them in the comments section (thanks!).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chameleon Fun

We were at the library last week, when a book on chameleons caught my daughter's eye. We brought it home with us, but I thought it was just OK - it didn't really do chameleons justice with respect to their camouflaging abilities.

Then, out of the blue, my mom emailed me this video, which my daughters and I have enjoyed watching over and over (and over!):



Awesome!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Worst Blogger Ever

Back in April, N at The Learning Ark gave me an award...



...which is ironic, considering that I've been the world's worst blogger lately. Nonetheless, I'm very grateful and honored to receive this award (especially coming from a "real" Montessori teacher).

Many of you have emailed me with questions or left questions in the comments, and I plan to get to all of them.

First, to wrap up some unfinished business, Spesamore Academy asked me if I could share the last three verses from My ABC Bible Verses, and I'm happy to oblige:

X: "eXcept ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

Y: "You are my friends if you do whatever I command you." John 15:14

Z: "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." Luke 19:5

I know I've said this before, but I highly recommend this book. Sure, the stories can be a little cheesy and Pollyanna (oh, if only all children could be like Missy and Bill!), but they certainly model the way I would like my kids to behave; and after reading the stories enough times, I can use examples from the book during "teachable moments" with my daughters ("Remember the time Missy was in the grocery store with her mom..."). Plus (and I know I've said this before too) the kids really did learn these verses, even the two-year-olds (and we mommies learned the verses right along side them :)

The book is well thought-out, and the verses build on each other (the story for verse S might refer back to the verses for stories A and I, for example). I found a list of verses for each letter of the alphabet here, but the book also puts the verses into context, which makes them easier to understand and therefore easier to memorize.