Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back to School Week 2014

I became that parent this week. 

We are still full swing into summer break and I decided "why not just start now?!?" So we did.  We started back up with school work. We are going to plan on just four work days a week for a month or so and work in a week off every 5-6 weeks during the school year. Or that's the current plan... we all know it can change whenever...

I'm really pleased with some of the new books we picked out this year so I thought I would share it along with some of the ways we incorporate Montessori into it all. 

Barrett (age 6 1/2)
Math: Karen Tyler's Montessori Math Manual and Singapore Level 2A/2B

Language: Writing with Ease Level 1, Interest Based Literature (the A-Z Mystery guides are a favorite right now)

History: Story of the World Volume 1, Usborne World History Encyclopedia (geography and literature studies are worked into this as well)

Science: Usborne Science Encyclopedia (supplemented with Botany, Zoology, Astronomy and Physical Science Manuals from Karen Tyler)

Piano: Premier Piano Level 2A Theory, Performance and Lesson Books

Indie (age 3)
Math: Karen Tyler's Montessori Math Manual (currently working on numbers 1-10 and introducing the teen boards and beads)

Language: Karen Tyler's Language Album with emphasis on writing and the moveable alphabet (currently working on initial sounds and letter formation)

Practical Life: Karen Tyler's Montessori Manual

Science: We are starting some physical science and placing heavy emphasis on experience the natural world (Botany, Zoology and Astronomy will be introduced as well through the year)

Music/Art: nothing structured, a focus on appreciation and experience along with varying mediums for art (paint, paper, non paper surfaces, painting with various tools and instruments)

How We Structure Our Day:

We've done so many different things over the past few years. I really enjoyed using our student contract last year but I wanted to streamline it a bit this year. I was hoping to combine the idea of a list and the possibility of self discipline. We decided to get a nice blank notebook (leather and everything!) for each kid. I write down the subjects and what I would like to see Barrett work on that day. There is enough room on the page so that when he works on something not on the list, he writes down the time of day and what he worked on. This gives him the flexibility to work on projects or to really end up involved in a lengthy project without having the pressure to check off every box. 

For Indie, I also have a notebook for her but I take time during the day to write down what I observed her doing and what time of day. If I introduce something new I will write that down as well. It generally looks like this: 

3:00 Screwdriver Board
3:30 letter H box
3:35 painting
4:00 outside

We've been playing with various work times. 9-10 is fairly consistent along with 2-4 in the afternoon. This gives us time to work in field trips and playdates without messing up our day too much and if we have to transport our little guy somewhere, we can just take our stuff with us during that time. Our only general rule of thumb is that the "list" has to be done between breakfast and dinner.  

I'm super excited for this year and finding a new rhythm. I hope you stick around with us for a little while!


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Activities for 6-12 Months

I'm not sure I fully appreciated the beauty of this age range with my first two. It's the age of movement- rolling and sitting and crawling. Maybe even walking for some munchkins. They can finally move to get to that much desired toy instead of screaming their heads off for an adult to come help them. Or not help that as is the case in our house more often than I like to admit. 

While we can't have a floor bed with our little one we can still provide an environment that encourages movement and freedom.  

 Balls are a huge hit. Especially one with different textures, sizes and shapes. We love the B. Oddballs (you can find them cheaper at target). 

Bucket of matchbox cars. 

Or a bucket of large wooden items with wheels if you are the type concerned about the previous idea's choke-ability factor. Your big kids may even join in on the fun. 

Our baby friendly shelf with some large handle puzzles, shape sorters, books and a place for those highly coveted balls. 

Space to move, something to move for and plenty of time is really all these little guys need. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Golden Beads {Montessori Math}

I really love the Montessori approach to large numbers. 

This afternoon my son and I had a really good, long laugh when I tried to tell him that there are one hundred one hundreds in a thousand. He just looked at me like I was crazy and started laughing. I realized my mistake way too late. I'm not sure he will ever let me live that one down. 

For him, it's very clear how many hundreds are in one thousand because he's touched them. He's moved them around. He's counted them all. It makes sense to him. While I'm still trying to remember how many zero's it's supposed to have and do some type of crazy mental math in my head. 

This past week and the week before we have been going through some of the Golden Bead Materials. You can buy the real deal but it's probably a waste of money for a home environment. Although there are a TON of activities you can do with them, the price is a little steep. 

We own a version of these that I found at a yard sale. Ours are yellow and don't snap together but these look reasonable. I wanted to see if a paper copy got the point across just as well and it did! I was able to use the ones from my manual from KHT Montessori  (make sure to get the optional math support forms) but I looked around online to find some other options.  

Montessori Print Shop has Control Sheet to Color and Free Large Number Cards
Our Montessori Home made a great DIY version

I'd recommend introducing after you have worked with the teen board and the ten board along with the hundred board. The idea is working numbers up to and over one thousand. 

You can start by showing a large number (136) and placing one "hundred" three "Tens" and six "ones on the mat. Have fun coming up with different numbers! 

We had a great time adding large numbers- I made up a quick plus and equal sign. You can also subtract easily. Once they have mastered those there isn't really a limit- adding with regrouping, multiplication, and division. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Colored Bead Chains and Squares {Math}

I kept putting off presenting this one to my older one because I was a little confused by the whole thing. It was silly because it's so crazy easy even if you are horrible at math!!!  It's a pretty genius way to learn number squares. 

Square Chain Labels like these (free)
Large Mat or Floor Space (It takes up all of our table while laid out)
Tray to store if you don't have a cabinet (we don't!! it's ok... ;))

General Instructions:
1. Select a Chain. 3, 4 or 5 are good ones to start. 
2.  Move the beads one section at a time  (slowly) to show how a square is formed. 
3.  Place the bead square on top to show that it matches. Move it off. 
4. Use the number labels to show that the number was squared. 
5. Have the child count from the first set to the last set. 
6. If they seemed interested keep going!! 

- Since we introduced addition and multiplication already we talked about how 3 + 3+ 3 is the same as 3x3 is the same as 3 squared. 
-"Go fetch" is a great game where you ask the child to find a number within the chain. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Short Bead Bars and Snake Game {Math}

I love materials that we can do a lot with. The short bead bars are one of those. You could also buy the Teen Bead Box   and take out the short bead bars if you wanted to save some money. You'll need those golden tens later!  I wanted to pass along a few of the games we really love and extensions. 

The first one is simply linear counting. This is where you show that each bead set represents a number unit. You can introduce this after they have used the counters- four is a good target age but I had good experience with my three year old. You may just have to take it slower. 

-1 is Red
 -2  is Green
-3 is pink
-4 is yellow
-5 is light blue
-6 is lavender 
-7 is white
-8 is brown
-9 is dark blue
-10 is gold

I started with a three period lesson for a few of the numbers at a time and added as I knew she had mastered them. 

Snake Game Coloring Pages. This was a favorite. Imagine Our Life has a printable sheet she made and directions on DIY Bead materials. Montessori Print Shop has a great Bead Stair printable. The Helpful Garden has a really nice one for free.   Here is another one (look below the truck) And one more at Montessori Mom You could draw circles on a paper to have them color as well. Barrett chose to match the bars rather than color the pages while Indie loved coloring them. 

Make Ten. This is a pretty classic exercise where you make ten out of the different bars. 

Make your Own: I'm super excited to have the kids make some bead bars by painting wooden beads and stringing them with pipe cleaners. We obviously haven't done this yet or I would have some super awesome cute photos but I think you get the idea :) 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Numerals and Counters {Math}

I don't recommend buying a ton of Math materials for home use but there are a few that I have found extremely helpful and valuable. One of them is the numeral and counter set. We have used these a ton and it's still the little one's go to Math work. We started with a mat and the box of counters and numerals. Find the number one and say "this is one" and than put one dot under the number. At first you may only do up to three depending on age. Continue until you reach nine. 

An example of what the flashcards look like. You can use these with the red counters or without. I've seen some fun activities incorporating clothespins as well. 

You can easily to this with 55 similar objects and some cards with numbers on them. 

Montessori Print Shop has some Summer Numbers and Counters for Free 

Montessori Album demonstrates how to introduce Numerals and Counters in a lot more detail. 

This week I introduced this same lesson but with the graph paper cut out so there is one spot for each dot. This helps makes it self correcting and is a great way to start playing with numbers. Yesterday we worked on "how many more?" to get to our target number. "I Spy" is another fun game to play with either the counters or the numerals. 

Did you notice we skipped a few lessons? In a perfect world you would introduce the number rods and the spindle rods first before the counters. You know your kids though and many of them will do just fine going straight to the counters after learning one to one correspondence. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Prepared Adult: Practical Resources

The past few weeks I've been trying to work through the different aspects of an ideal Montessori environment. These aspects include the prepared environment, freedom with responsibility and the prepared adult. I talked about the role of Guide a few months ago and it fits in really well here: 

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. 

How do we become prepared adults? Especially in a home environment? A few weeks ago I talked about how hard this all is and received a ton of feedback that many of you felt the same way. I think today I'll just share some of my resources that I go to frequently, especially the books and blogs, and I hope that you find them helpful in preparation for your kiddos. 

(I have read or are currently reading these)

The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori
The Discovery of the Child by Maria Montessori
Montessori in Contemporary American Culture by Loeffler
Basic Montessori by David Gettman

Montessori Madness by Travor Eissler
Montessori Today by Paula Polk Lillard
Teach me to Do it Myself by Maja Pitamic
Project Based Homeschooling by Pickert (not Montessori but many early elementary principles fit nicely here)

Nurture Shock by Po Bronson
Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax
Connected Child by Purvis (written for adoptive and foster parents but a wonderful resource for positive parenting)
Simplicity Parenting, Payne 

I spent a lot of years going through free things online and I found that as soon as I had a few manuals in my hand, it made things so much easier. If you are considering doing this for real, they are worth the investment. I included a few different ones but I own the ones from Karen Tyler. 

Karen Tyler, KHT Montessori
Montessori Print Shop Teaching Manuals
Montessori at Home ebook (great reference if you are not sure- I started with this one)
Keys of the Universe (elementary- I will be working through these starting next January)

Do you have one to share? Let me know in the comments!! 

Nothing here is sponsored. I included them because I have made purchases and was pleased with the service and quality.  

Thrift Stores, Dollar Tree, Target, Library