Monday, January 30, 2012

Bible Dolls & Pinterest

Last week, My Boys' Teacher pinned this Bible doll craft from alljoinin on pinterest. We thought the dolls were so cute, we made a few of our own:

They're still a work in progress (some still need headdresses, and we may or may not put faces on them), but from left to right, we have Ruth (our 5-y.o.'s creation), Naomi (our 7-y.o.'s creation), John the Baptist/Elisha/Elijah (my husband's creation), and David the shepherd boy (mine). We had so much fun sewing these little dolls! We even have Goliath and a few others in the hopper. 

I've been away from the computer for a while now, so pinterest was completely new to me when My Boys' Teacher mentioned in a comment that she had pinned a picture from one of my posts. I looked into it and was intrigued -- it's a great way to see and share Montessori and other homeschool ideas (not to mention recipes and lots of other great ideas).

Are you on pinterest?  If so, please feel free to share your pinterest page in the comments below or via email--I'm always looking for new ideas and concepts to incorporate in our classroom.  For those who are interested, my pinterest page is here

PS -- If you're not on pinterest yet and would like an invite, feel free to email me. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Highlighters and Handwriting

Yesterday at OMS Daily, I briefly mentioned the use of highlighters in our schoolwork. They play a very important role in our homeschool, so I wanted to show everyone a few examples of when and how we use them.

These are our word drawers:

Drawers 1-38 contain Laura from My Montessori Journey's word drawers (which she so kindly made available here). Here's a peek inside drawer 1...

...and here's an example of my 3-y.o. matching words to pictures (drawer 25):


Drawers 39-60 contain our exception word cards, which you can download here. Each drawer contains 10 words, as well as a list of the words that should be in it (just so I know if a word has gone missing):

I also put the drawer number on each card and on the back of each word, so that if either gets misplaced, I easily know where to return it:

I keep strips of lined writing paper and clip boards by the word drawers; once my daughter has matched the words to the pictures, I write the words on the lined paper in highlighter, and my daughter traces over the highlighter (a technique I saw used when my oldest daughter, then 3, attended a private Montessori school). So that I don't have a million strips of lined paper floating around, I tape her strips into a composition book, which is a very nice way to collect them (my daughter loves to flip back through her book and read the words):  

Lately, I've started writing directly into the composition book. It doesn't have a dashed line between two solid lines, but I notice that the spacing is identical:

I also use the highlighter with my 5-y.o. We use The Well-Trained Mind and Writing with Ease for our writing/grammar/literature curriculum. Susan Wise Bauer places a strong emphasis on journaling; however, Bauer points out that for a child this young, it would be difficult to think of something to journal about and then keep it in her head long enough to write it down. Therefore, Bauer recommends dictation -- my daughter says her journal entry to me aloud, and I record it for her. As an added twist, though, I take my daughter's dictation in highlighter so that she can then write her entry herself: 

I even use highlighters with my 7-y.o., who currently is working on cursive writing. This is an example of a "copywork" page from Writing with Ease, Vol. 1. The theory behind copywork is that, by copying well written excerpts from literature, the child learns proper sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, etc. But because the excerpts are written in manuscript, I model the cursive writing for her with highlighter, and then she writes over my writing:

The majority of the older girls' handwriting practice is not highlighter-assisted, but the highlighters are extremely useful in special circumstances like the ones I just mentioned. And although this may sound trivial, letting the girls pick which color highlighter they want me to use makes handwriting just a little bit more fun :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Following the Child: Our 3-y.o. and Addition

Every morning, without fail, our two older girls do math. It goes without saying that after breakfast they grab their math books and get started. So I guess it was only natural that our 3-y.o. wanted to do math, too.

Seizing upon her interest, over the past semester I introduced most of the math basics: the red and blue rods, the sandpaper numbers, the spindle boxes, numbers and counters, numbers 11 - 19, introduction to the decimal system, the "crisis of 9s," etc., until I got to the point when I thought she was ready for "shell math," an activity I read about in the New Child Montessori curriculum guide I bought a couple years ago (the other big Montessori investment we've made since our original purchase of Montessori materials four years ago).

Using addition sentences and answers from Montessori for Everyone (which I printed, laminated, and cut out), she would choose an addition sentence, choose the appropriate number of shells, and then find the appropriate answer card (here she is showing 1 + 1 = 2 and 3 + 5 = 8):

(For the shell math activity, I would select, say, 7 different math sentences and their corresponding answers; then I would set out the 7 answers in random order so she wouldn't be overwhelmed by all of the possible answers, a tip provided by Montessori for Everyone -- thanks!) 

She got so good at shell addition that I decided to see how she would do using stamp game units instead of shells; also, rather than matching an answer with a sentence, I wrote columnar equations and then let her write her own answer (here she is working on 4 + 4 -- she gets 4 unit stamps, 4 more unit stamps, lines up all the stamps, then counts how many she has altogether): 


She keeps the sandpaper numbers close by in case she needs help remembering how to write a number:

She got so adept at doing addition with stamp units that I ran out of equations -- there are only so many combinations you can do that add up to nine! 

I wanted to introduce equations with sums up to 18, but I wasn't sure how to do it. I didn't think she was quite ready for the full-blown bank game, and the addition strip board and addition charts didn't seem like they'd hold her interest. I was curious to see how she would do with a modified version of the bank game, so first I reviewed the overview of the decimal system and the "crisis of 9s" with her:

When she spontaneously said to me, "Mommy, I can make 10 like this..."

"...or like this..."

I thought she was ready! So here's how we did it:

First, I wrote some equations with sums up to 18. Here, she's working on 4 + 7:

I gave her a bank with 10s and units:

She puts 4 units in one cup, and 7 units in a second cup:

She pours all of the units into one cup:

Then she starts counting units. When she gets to 10 units, we say, "Stop!"

I remind her that there is "no such thing" as 10 units -- there's only one ten -- so she gives her units back to the bank and exchanges them for one ten:

She's left with one ten and one unit, so we get the number card for one ten and the number card for one unit, and she reads her answer to me: "One ten and one unit are eleven."

She writes down her answer, and voila!

She really seems to enjoy it and she's thriving, so even though it's a little unconventional, we're going to keep going with this fun modification of the bank game (bank game lite?) and see where she leads...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Free Knobless Cylinder Extensions

Just in case you missed this post over at OMS Daily, my husband and 3-y.o. did some very cool extensions with the knobless cylinders the other day:

When I saw this extension they did together and recognized all of math going on, I was absolutely blown away:

The red is there, acting like zero. The green and yellow are there, making fact families. I was thrilled that my 3-y.o. got to experience all of this math! I was so excited about it that my husband was inspired to set up and photograph some more knobless cylinder extensions for our homeschool. 

Unlike most knobless cylinder extensions (which involve matching cylinders to circles on paper), these extensions are more similar to the pink tower/brown stair extensions we posted a few days ago, which model combinations for you and your child to recreate:

Our 7-y.o.'s creation:

You can see the entire album here

Please feel free to repost, share, etc.; if you do, please include a reference to the blog and/or link back. Thanks! :) 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Montessori Renaissance

We recently have experienced a Montessori Renaissance in our home, in part as a result of resurrecting this blog. It's been so refreshing for the older girls, because Montessori is a welcome change of pace from the rigors of, "Now it's time to do math, pages 89 - 101 and the corresponding exercises." (I kid. But truly, Singapore Math is INTENSE.)

On Friday, the girls worked for hours. They were busy and happy and productive, and somehow I even managed to clean a little while they worked!

The sensorial materials still have as much appeal for our 5-y.o. today... they did three years ago:

Our 7-y.o. is rediscovering her favorite Montessori materials and -- in a wonderful turn of events for our family -- is thoroughly enjoying presenting materials to our 3-y.o.:

It's like having an extra teacher in the house (and further testimony to the brilliance of the Montessori method)!

I certainly don't plan to abandon the curriculum choices we've made, because I feel confident that our girls are getting a great education; however, I am looking forward to incorporating more Montessori into our weekly schedule, and the girls are too. :)