Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Water Cycle - 1

I'm not sure how to classify this project, general science, I guess.
Taking a rare opportunity of rain on a warm day without thunder/lightning, the girls played outside with their umbrellas (and without, too). (yes, we stopped the painting project in the middle, but went back to it - this was an opportunity we'd been waiting for)
This is our exchange:
Where is the rain coming from? 2yo-up in the sky 4yo-from the clouds
How does rain get in the clouds? 2yo-I don't know, how? 4yo-from the sea
Yes, from the sea and lots of other places like right here at our house. How does the water get in the clouds from the sea? 4yo-it splashes so high it gets stuck in the clouds
Well, I'm not sure water can splash quite that high. But the sun makes the water evaporate - What does evaporate mean? --- It is when the hot sun makes the water get into little tiny bits and it floats up to the clouds, kind of like steam but not so hot.
follow up a few minutes later: How does water get from the sea into the clouds? 4yo-the sun makes it little and carries it up.
follow up a few minutes later, the wind blew their pictures over, despite tape: The tape isn't working very well because it is so humid out now. What does it mean when I say it is humid outside? --- It means the air is a little wet because of evaporation. What is evaporation? 4yo-when water goes up to the clouds.

I'd been doing things like this before, is this a "Montessori way"? Feed back would be great!

Land and Water

The girls are doing a land and water related art project so I'm stepping away for a minute to post another resource. Amber Carvan has a lovely website/newsletter that she puts out chronicling her own families arts and crafts. Each newsletter has a theme, such as "bees" or "pirates", which is useful when your kids are into something particular or to have as part of a "lesson" (Why do I have such a hard time remembering Montessori terms?)

As for us: Each girl has a piece of blue paper and a piece of brown paper. We talked about properties of land and water, which paper meant which & why, what lives on land and what lives in water, now the girls are stamping items on each paper and painting "pictures" of other things in the appropriate habitat.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tearing Paper

AT's handwork for today was tearing paper in straight lines
We happened to have some scrap paper that was unintentionally printed with a MS Excel document that was outlined.
AT had 3 sheets
Sheet 2: She was told to tear out the rectangle any way she wanted to. After some results that she didn't find satisfactory, she did actually try to fold the paper but didn't fold it on the line, but didn't attempt to tear it.
Sheet 2: I demonstrated how to get the fold where you want it, how to make a soft fold and a hard fold and how to tear on the fold. The hard fold was difficult for her and I had to guide her uncooperative hands for most of it.
Sheet 3: She was instructed to make another hard fold. Then I put a small amount of water in a dish and demonstrated wetting the tip of my finger and running it along a fold and then tearing it. She was quite happy with this method and was very successful.
Sheet 4: Yes, I only gave her 3 sheets. After I photo-ed the first sheets, she got another and leaving it flat, wet her finger and outlined the rectangle. She liked this method best. See, I told you she was true Montessori material! (Please excuse the Proud Momma moment- haha)

Another Resource

I haven't really looked at this site too much due to time constraints of today. However, on first glance it seems like it is a good resource so I will post about it here and put it in the sidebar if I do indeed find it useful. I'm not sure what the actual name of the company is Livable Learning or JMJ Publishing. There is a section on Montessori Education as well as other information.

All Day...

All day today, with a few breaks and routine childcare/household duties, I have been downloading items from montessorimaterials.org I spent a crazy amount of time doing this. I sat down prepared with several blank CD's to fill up with the lessons I found here. It all amounted to slightly less than 60mb - less than 1/10th of a CD! I did skip a few things, but very few. I'm surprised, but I think happy that the new folder is so small. Montessori Materials has a wide range of activities, cards, lesson plans, etc. Some of the material is great, some of it is fine and some of it falls into the category of "don't look a gift horse in the mouth". Perhaps I could do better, perhaps not, most likely I will not have the time to find out. Everything actually offered on the site is free to use for yourself, posted by other Montessori Guides (parents and/or teachers?) There is also a links list of things that may or may not be free. As a "dot org" website, it is non-profit and runs with minimal cost on donations.

While the baby naps...

we usually do an art project - embarrassingly simple ones - and then have some sort of quiet time.
Today, however, we are having a Practical Life lesson. Apparently, I have become the "Step-Mother" to 2 Cinderellas who are scrubbing the floor. They love "playing" in the water, squishing the sponges in different ways, and even the scrubbing action! Dried up green bean "skin" from the baby's dinner last night? "Watch me make it misappear!"
GR just poked her head up over the dining table where I'm sitting and said, "I'm almost done Step-Mother. Hey! Puters are not in Cinderwedda's story!" Oops, guess I'd better go!

Good info

While I have found a lot of great information from many sources, I haven't found anything resembling a curriculum. (Not saying there aren't plenty of them out there, I just haven't come across them, partly because I didn't know what to call it) Until today! I was looking for templates for constructive triangles and found this Montessori AMI Primary Guide
I've just glanced through it, but it seems to be pretty thorough!

Friday, August 22, 2008

If I could

get some energy from somewhere, I would go to super-wal-mart and get some supplies. None-the-less, we played "mystery bag" as our sensorial project this morning. AT did very well, she got everything right each time so I'll have to pick harder and harder items. GR got everything right when she got to handle the item and put it in the bag, most right when she only looked at the items and only a few right when she hadn't even seen the items. I don't really know, but I think it is good for a 2 year old. I think they had the most fun when it was their turn to make a mystery bag for me. They were particularly delighted when I was able to tell which peek-a-block they had chosen by feeling and/or sound. I need a few more containers, but a sound guessing game is high on my feasibility list.
NOTE: I'm sure is it incorrect to refer to the things we do as games, but they sure are fun for the kids!

Mystery Bag
a very simple game that helps children connect tangible items with images in their minds
we used a dark colored, king size pillow case
10 or so smallish items that the kids are familiar with
put the items in the bag
using only their hands, the kids guess what is in the bag
can be simple like ball, block, shoe; harder like toy food, or even harder like guessing which dinosaur figure is which

Take a step back

I just rushed headlong into this blog without even thinking of introducing myself! I'm Sarah, a stay at home mom. If I were going back to a former career I guess I'd be an office manager or some other sort of office worker that doesn't have quite so many responsibilities. However, I really don't want to do that. I'm quite happy where I am, even on my grumpy days and even on the days when I just can't seem to get any cooperation out of my kids. If I do need to go back to work in a few years, I'm seriously contemplating the teaching field.
Despite my husband's reservations about putting too much info on the internet, I am going to at least put our names out there, because, frankly, it is too hard to remember to type anything else! On a tangential note, it is a crying shame that we even have to think of such things.
** OK so I'm not using their names anymore, it's a good policy that MANY others have adhered to**
AT, 4
GR, 2
AK, 1
Shortly after AT turned 1, it became quite clear that she was learning way more than I knew I was teaching her. She is also independent and focused.
Obviously Montessori was ideal for her. However, we don't have the $600+ a month that private schools cost. At the time, I really didn't have any idea that you could do it at home. It seemed costly and involved. I sent her to a church play-based pre-school to give her some practice with socializing. I picked the idea back up last fall when I decided that if she didn't get into the public pre-k I would school her at home. The more I looked into it, the more I realized I could do it at home with little cost. There are a ton of great people who are also doing this, who share their knowledge and material making instructions. I am still exploring my online resources and will probably continue to do so for a long time!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lists, lists and more lists

I almost always start any project with at least one list. Not that I write everything on to the list, or remember to bring the list when I shop, or do everything on the list, or even keep track of where that paper is. I've been thinking about doing this for a long time and now I've finally moved onto the list stage. I've even got a little notebook and everything.
On the first page is a list of the things I believe I should buy first. This includes a little rug, place mat (for table work), and a work tray for each kid. I went to Target the other day, but didn't find anything suitable. Next is the list of Montessori items that I believe are important tools and that I don't believe I can make easily. This includes the pink tower, brown stair, knobbed and knobless cylinder sets. Then I have list of items I think I can make or collect on my own, which is various house hold items, card sets, sandpaper letters, sensory items etc. One day I'll post the lists in some form.
My final list is a loose schedule. In a Montessori school room, everything would always be out for each kid to access it at any time they desire. I have considerably less room to set up and in fact will be spread over the house. Since I have very little ones anyway, I've decided to set times to focus on specific areas of study. We will choose an area and then each child can choose an activity. For instance if we choose language arts then the activities might include a board book or alphabet game for the baby, an alphabet coloring sheet or "A is for Apple" type cards for the toddler, writing practice or a upper&lower case matching game for the 4 year old. Each one can participate in some way in the activity of the others (the baby may only passively participate). It's my way of being the guide as you'd find in the class room- they are still getting to choose what specifically interests them, I'm just planning what area we work on.
The schedule also includes things we're going to do as part of regular life, library, art, parks, grandma's house, etc.
I'll let you know if I finish/use/keep track of these!

Where to Start?

Figuring out exactly where to start has been the hardest thing. There are a lot of resources on-line and some in book form, too. I feel like I need an outline to make sure I'm on the right path, but haven't found anything like that. If you know a place to find it, please share! Lack of that is why I'm starting this blog. I thought that it would help me keep track of what I've done, what I'm doing and what I'd like to do. I also hope that it provides something that helps out someone else. If you're a blogger on a similar path, please contact me I'd love to visit your site too!