Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Visual Discrimination {Matching}

I learned a new term this week. Maybe it's not all that new. But I didn't really think much about it. If you are a teacher you have probably heard of visual discrimination. It's really just a fancy word for matching.  And as simple as it seems, it's still super important. It's one of the early skills for reading and writing and an essential skill for science.  In a Montessori Environment you would see it presented in the Language Album as a precursor for writing and reading. 

You can find a plethora of cards online for free. Seriously.

For spring the kids have been working on a study on birds so we used the free cards from Montessori Print Shop that I printed and laminated a few years ago. 

This would fit a lot better in a post on Astronomy but Barrett is excited about these from Trillium Montessori. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The "Guide"

"Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence." 

I've rewritten this post what feels like fifteen different times. I think it's because it keeps sounding so- sterile- for lack of a better word. I could write for pages about the importance of being a "guide" to your munchkins but in reality it's messy and hard and frustrating. And I want to talk about all of it. Not just a textbook description of this odd term.

I keep trying though. Because it really is important. It's top of the chart important. So hang with me for a minute while I struggle through this...

"Education is not something which the teacher does, but...a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher's task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange..."    Montessori

This is what makes the Montessori Method so very unique and what I missed for years and years. It isn't about what materials you have or don't have. It's not about your student to teacher ratio. It's about the directress. Or the parent. Or simply, it's about you.  It's about this concept of "The Guide."

  The responsibility overwhelms me many days. I am the one who just lost it on her three year old. I am the one who made her son cry through his entire piano practice- more than once.   The one who is so tired of carrying around the seven month old that I would do anything to get him to stay in one spot happily. Including one of those ipad baby seat things. And we don't even have an ipad.

Thankfully these kids are resilient.

We had a moment the other day. My daughter was working on the binomial cube. Something that is probably just out of her reach normally. But she kept trying. And trying. And I kept presenting how to do it. And at one point, she did it. And sat back in her chair and sighed a sigh of contentment. I was so glad that I caught this moment because that moment was what this whole thing is about. What the whole struggle is about.

We have the power to create an excellent environment in which children learn spontaneously. One in which they find joy in work.  Where they challenge themselves and check their work and find answers to questions- all on their own.

Being a guide means providing an environment in which children are free to learn. Free to move. Free to gravitate towards what inspires them.  Most days that means making sure the tables are clean and the trays are out. It means materials showing up after an interest was observed. It means intentionally observing your kids work and adjusting accordingly.

I'm slowly learning in the end that "Montessori" really encompasses an attitude. An attitude we can all attain regardless of income bracket or educational philosophies. We can keep a light burning in these kids. It's worth it. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Discussing Elasticity, Plasticity and Rigidity

This is a really easy introduction to terms in physical science you can make as easy or as hard as you'd like. Traditionally, I would introduce them all separately. For Barrett we went ahead and introduced them all at the same time.

I set up a tray with the terms, objects and pictures. We discussed the definitions and than went on to find objects around the house.

Here are the basic definitions for you:

Elasticity: when something is stretched and returns back to the way it was before (elastic)
Plasticity: when something is changed and stay the way it was formed (clay)
Rigidity: something that does not stretch or bend (rock)

Name Cards and Pictures (Free- formatted to save some paper)

Searching for objects that display different features and recording on the camera. 

Extensions: you could make a friendship bracelet, weave, play with clay or build with blocks. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Questions about Montessori? Q&A by Karen Tyler

Hello there! Noticed the long absence??? I had to take some time off as we adjusted to having an extra kiddo with us during the week. I was almost ready to start back up and we added another kid! We seem to be finding a new rhythm a lot quicker than I anticipated. You can check out the blog for more information on our new adventure in Foster Care. 

I am amazed at how many page views we are still getting over here and I wanted to say a huge thank you for stopping by!  I have so many ideas and thoughts and struggles that I would love to share so please keep reading.  And I promise I'll make things a little more consistent over here. 

I am currently enrolled in a 12-month Montessori Training course through KHT Montessori. You can check out her website,  KHT Montessori. The course is run by Karen Tyler who is AMS certified and has over 30 years experience. Karen has been amazing and she offered to answer some of your questions!!  I am super excited to have Karen guest post to jump start this whole blogging thing. 

So if you have any Montessori related questions, ask away! 

Just post your question in the comments and check back to see some of the answers.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Letter to friends of Foster Parents

I have a feeling this post is going to get me in some trouble. 

A few weeks ago I had every intention of starting up this blog again. I am working through a 12-month training course in the Montessori Method.  I have so many ideas and activities that I was super excited to share. I even have a few posts saved up ready to go... 

But than last week we got the call. Apparently the county had our paperwork officially approved on Thursday morning and called Thursday afternoon with a placement. We were, in the span of a few hours, an open foster home and full foster home. 

Needless to say, everything was flipped upside down. It wasn't that we weren't ready. We have been working for over a year towards this.  It's just all the things that could possibly involve adding a new person to your home plus a half dozen county employees.  

So, now that you have some background, here is my letter to the friends of foster parents.... 


Dear Friends of Foster Parents, 

I know that this seems like an exciting time. I know you have a whole lot of questions. I know that it seems very odd to you. Or seems very amazing. Or crazy. Or something.  I'm sure we have talked about this at some point. That's why you know why I have an extra kid strapped to my chest. I was obviously not pregnant the last time I saw you. 

I would love to answer your questions. I just can't. I can't give details. I can't talk about his parents. I have to protect his privacy and I need mine protected as well. I'm sorry. 

I would love to talk to you about Foster Care. I am just too tired. If you set up a time to talk, I would love to do that. But in the middle of the day while I'm trying to chase down my other kids, probably not such a great idea.  Go open up a new browser and search for your county foster care program. Read it. 

There. Questions answered. 

"I could never let someone go" is not helpful. I have today with this little guy and I will love him to the best of my ability- today. I cannot control tomorrow. I am not super mom. I will have a hard time letting go.  We decided to run headfirst into this. We will allow God to carry us through. 

And most importantly, please do not look at this little one with pity. He is not something to be pitied.  He is not a face for your bleeding heart.  These kids have been through more than you could imagine and they deserve your respect. So respect them. Admire them. Lift them up and give them a chance to succeed.  

-a newly fledged Foster Parent

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas 2013

Where exactly did the past six months go? This year has been a whirlwind, although as I think about it, most years seem to be that way. Even though I have failed to update the blog for the past semester, I would be sad if I didn't give our yearly update. So here is what we've been up to out here in good ol' Lafayette. 

Joe has been loving work at Summit Integrated this year. He has been managing projects across the country for all shapes and sizes of churches. You can find him sleeping off his long nights or working on his RC Car in the little bit of spare time he has. He can disappear for hours on his mountain bike and loves the fact that I can't keep up with him. We managed only a few trips camping this summer but put some nice marks on the 4runner off-roading. 

I have been thoroughly enjoying my job as stay at home mom. Although I'm not sure that title really suits the scope of responsibilities I've taken on this year! I have been homeschooling Barrett along with taking care of one of the coolest little boys around a few days a week. We have found an amazing rhythm and get outside as much as possible. You're likely to see pictures of the kids hiking in the mountains or parading around Colorado on field trips. I have also found a great niche in volunteering in the toddler rooms at church.  I still love to sew and knit and crochet along with bake an excessive amount of sugary treats.  We adopted five backyard chickens from my sister in law and the bulk of responsibility tends to fall on me. Those girls can be quite temperamental but we are figuring it out together. I can official call myself a runner this year- finishing a handful of 5k's, 10ks and one half marathon. I'm looking forward to what the next year will hold. 

Barrett is been every bit of know-it-all charmer that he always has been. He started Kindergarten and attends a homeschool enrichment program once a week. He is enjoying all of the small freedoms he is gaining. He hates to have to stop a project mid way through- which at times can be quite a challenge- but I am thankful we are able to homeschool and he can finish an entire chapter book in a day if it suits him. Or a lego project. Or looking for dinosaur bones in the backyard. We are working on switching gears with more finesse. He is in the middle of his second year on the piano and is very excited to play his first "turn the page song" this month. He realized he wasn't as much a fan of soccer as he is of rock climbing and running. He even finished his first 5k this year! He is a few weeks shy of six and I'm amazed at how fast the time as gone. 

Indie is every ounce of two year old girl that you can get. She is strong and confident and loving and kind. And a handful. Maybe two. Someone once said she has my personality and Joe's filter. I'm pretty sure that's as accurate as you can get. She LOVES to be outside. You can find her peeing in the woods right next to the boys. She gets extremely frustrated with the computer and you can find her hiding under any number of tables with my phone most days.  She loves to do "school" and keeps me on my toes.  She is also my resident artist. The walls in our house can attest to that! That girl will find any possible writing implement and use it on everything BUT paper. We even made her a corner in the house to "create" but it doesn't seem to be doing the trick. I'm enjoying watching her grow into quite the big girl and excited for what three will look like for her.

We are starting our newest journey of pursuing foster care certification this year. Our hope is to adopt, but we are excited to work with Boulder County and their 360 program. They work very hard at getting families back together and we are excited to see what that looks like. We hope to build relationships and provide a safe place for little ones for however long they need. It will be a long journey to certification and an even longer journey with the little ones- but we trust that God will surround us through it all. 

Merry Christmas! 

I wish that I could take you all out for coffee and hugs and laughter and tears. 

-Lauren (and the rest of the Jones clan)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Types of Volcanoes and Resources {Science}

Why are building volcanoes so amazingly exciting??? What do you want to do today? Build a volcano. Again? Yep. 

I finally (I know, it's been a year) managed to make a few cards for the types of volcanoes. Feel free to print them off and use. We attempted to build the varying types of volcanoes with our play dough and, as always, made them erupt with some good old baking soda and vinegar. 


Volcano Extensions with Play dough (old post by Mixing Playdough)

(super cool website)