Hello! Anyone there? Boy I hope so! It has been a million years since I wrote anything and SO much has happened! I was thinking about giving up blogging but I found that I miss it. Part of me has been confused about what to write since we are not doing a lot of Montessori work anymore. But then I figured that you will care about us….not just our schooling method! So here we are! Back to blogging, back to school (today is the first day), and back to sharing ideas! I hope you feel free to join us on our life adventure! As always I wanted to share what we are learning about this school year, what our space looks like (it is ever evolving), and how we are changing! So, I will start with the grand tour of our basement! It will look pretty similar to last years, but there are some changes! So jump right in and let me know what you think of it all! We put all of our chairs together to make a couch (every homeschool family needs a couch) we also made the small work shelf a book shelf. Finally we have the new green crates to hold the girls books. We are going to need these since I am working for e our business two days a week and we are going to be there (more pictures of that space later)! So far it is working out for us. You do see a few bits of Montessori since it is dear to my heart (plus Pup is still going to use a few math materials). I hope you enjoyed the tour. Stop back for more about our plan for the year later this week! Happy Schooling Everyone!
Well I spoke too soon about my summer science plan! Today the girls were off working on their own project and when I got to see their results, I was amazed. They were detailed, well thought through, and full of deep learning experiences. What I was able to see, was not just a great project, but real learning. They were problems solving, doing geometry, creating simple machines, and taking an abstract pictures and turning them into something real. Bunny read a Lego book and decided that she wanted to build Olivia’s House. She spent the whole morning figuring out how to make her creation look like the picture, including a second story! Pup worked really hard today making a road with a ramp for her cars. She was so proud that it all lined up and worked!
This is when I realized that my summer science plan was a little too much. I had plans yesterday to make all these wonderful learning boxes, but honestly they don’t need them or even want them. In fact it is a reminder to me that I need to relax! They are still learning with or without my amazing lessons! 🙂 I think that maybe their own free exploration with the aid of a few books and a random little definition would be more then enough.
When I began homeschooling I wanted my kids to love learning, to find joy in discovery, and to try new things. That is exactly what they are doing right now. It may not be in our school room, during school time, but it is happening here in our day to day life. It is a part of their life. That is what I should have seen when we were at the library and they choose a million books about a million things. They love to find out new things and that was my homeschooling goal. But as I looked at their creations, I realized that although my goal has always been to have real learning, knowing about the Montessori prepared environment has really allowed that to be possible in a daily way. The girls know where everything they need is, and they can try something and find everything that they need! It make a huge mess sometimes, but is it is a good learning mess! 🙂 What I need to do it make sure that I am finding the learning that is happening. It is a different way to see what the kids are doing. If I take a moment to see what they are learning and not just what they are doing, I think that I will be able to make sure that they have the bits that they may need and give a small lesson if the moment is right. Plus it is a way to make me stop and really look at them. Their play, and crafting is an expression of their true selves. The are showing me who they are in their work. They don’t need me to create a million projects, they just need me to pay attention to the projects and learning that they are already doing! Happy Schooling and Learning!
Happy Official First Day of Spring! I am so excited that the spring is here…at least that is what the calender is saying! The weather is telling me something different, but there is always hope! And hope is what we did here today!We started the seeds for our garden in the house today and the girls are all excited to watch them grow! Bunny already has a good idea of how it all happens, but Pup and I have been learning about living things and she is really excited to see it! This has had me thinking alot about how to make gardening fun with kids. There have been alot of years when I pick out everything and do most of the work expecting the kids to somehow just absorb it. But it doesnt work that way. They need to get in the dirt, feel the seeds, watch them grow, dig them back up, and taste the food they grew right outside in the yard! In fact I think that Bunny learned more last year about seeds while she planted helicopter seeds in the garden, then she did any other way! So that leads me to a few tips on making gardening a learning experience in a Montessori way.
1) Start with the Basics: Before you get out in the dirt, it is important to talk about living things! Show then the difference between living and non living. Talk about the things that all living things need (food, air, water, and reproduce). And even talk about the needs and parts of plants. This will allow the work in the garden to make an impression and to allow them to draw the knowledge out of the experience. There are alot of simple books you can find about these things, and you can also use cards from Montessori Print Shop to help show present these ideas! These are simple, and easy presentations that take only a few minutes, but really give the child the vocabulary and information to learn more!
2) Get Messy: Gardening involves dirt and it will be messy~ Let it! Let them really dig in the dirt and use the opportunity to talk about the dirt that the plants need to live and grow in. Let it be a sensory experience. You will allow them to form a sensory impression that will stick with them forever! Plus you will go down in history as the coolest mom ever! 😉
3) Give up Control: This is probably the most important tip~ let go! Give them seeds, give them soil to work with (weather in a pot or in a part of the garden), and them go. Let them plan it, water it, grow it, pull it up and look at it, whatever they want. This is where the learning it and it will happen. Dont plan on getting a bunch of great veggies or flowers from this area, but plan on your kids understanding more about plants then you can ever teach!
4) Have two gardens: You hear me, two gardens! One for the kids to experiment and play in, and one to really grow things. That means when your kiddo wants to see the roots of the plant he planted and he pulls it up, it doesnt ruin your tomato crop for the year! Lets face it, if you are going to put work, time, and money into the garden, you want to have a product! So make sure that they have their plants and you have yours. This will also allow the children to see the plants grow and produce, even if they forget about (or inadvertently kill) the plant they planted. Plus the children will see you model how to work in the garden and your plants can also provide control of error for your child’s plants as well!
5) Grow Creative: Try to get new veggies and new plants that you dont usually get along with your regulars! This year we found multi colored carrots and pepper that the girls were really excited to grow, even though they dont like either veggie normally! If you have limited space or are growing in containers, look for dwarf plants to grow. There are little carrots, peas, and berries for growing small, so look around and grab something new and different! It may just widen your eating!
6) Make the Space Usable: Have small gardening tool, small gloves, small pots, small watering cans…small everything! Make sure that it is all available all the time for the kids, so that when they have a chance or the desire to get out and work in the garden, they can! Gardening is only really fun when you can get out there and do it! Its not a chore, its an adventure!
7) Control Charts for Everyone: Another idea is to make control charts of what the plants look like as they grow, what weeds look like that should be pulled, and even a step by step on how to water the plants are things that should be printed and laminated and available in the garden area! Your goal is to make sure that the child have everything that they need to garden successfully! When there is many things growing, having reminders of what is growing, what it looks like, and how to care for it makes it easier!
8) Start them Sooner: Another fun thing that we did this year was to start our seeds early inside! I love that we are getting to jump into this learning and really have time to watch it closely and study before we are in the warm outside where the kids tend to get distracted! 🙂 We will watch it all happen and then we get to watch it outside too! This works really well for us who live in an area where that last frost seems to be really late in the year! Kids tend to get impatient, so waiting to eat those tomatoes until the end of summer may cause them to loose interest!
I am sure that there are a million more tips for gardening and I would love to hear what you do! I for one love to just keep it simply a chance for the kids to really dig, plant and learn! Any veggies we get are really a great bonus! I hope that this helps you get outside (when it warms up) and have fun in the dirt! I for one and planning on having a great time gardening in a laid back way with the girls this year! I hope you do too! If you want even more ideas, be sure to pop over to Pintrest and check out my Nature and Outside Ideas Board. Happy Gardening!
Well I have been working really hard at giving us more time to go deep into our interests. Bunny has been trying more things with ink (it is not going well) but we are going to try blackberries. Pup has been going non stop with cheetahs. And I have decided that I need to model learning by choosing my own project, so I will be learning about photography. That being said, I really felt we needed to re-evaluate our space and make it work better for an more open creative path. So my sister and I put our head together and came up with a new arrangement! One major thing that I felt we needed and that was an art area. In Project based homeschooling, a major element is having materials available to the children to create things as they learn. So we needed to make sure that thing we available. This meant adding a shelf, and that came with a whole set of new issues- mainly, where to put it? After a LOT of pondering (and a ton of furniture moving), we finally figured it out. Then it was all about putting materials on the shelves. I read about Montessori Moments school room tour and something she said really changed how I felt about organizing materials on the shelves. She said:
Well after all of my questions last week and all of your amazing advice, I think I have a plan of action that is going to give our school room the focus it so desperately need! We started today and Bunny really did a great job with more structure! She even was able to choose a research thing to look into! Pup didnt fare so well, but I think that she needs to start understanding her boundaries when its school time (its time to work and she needs to stay in the school room). Anyway, I made a skeleton plan for the next 6 weeks. My hope is that this allows me to know what is coming up next and what we need to do from which album, while offering enough wiggle room to explore other things. It takes alot of pressure off of trying to make sure that we are getting it all in within the research work. I think that I may have underestimated our ability to get things done, so this list may need to be explained in the last couple of weeks of my plan.The plan ends us right at the beginning of December, so that will let us have a break for all the fun of holiday planning! 🙂 Here is what we are going to be up to!
Finger charts (daily, we need to do remedial work badly)
Snake Games (if interested)
Equivalency of Fractions
Addition of Fractions
Number rod work
Grammar (Adjective and Verb)
Word Study (compound words, prefixes and suffixes)
Mechanics (capital letters, period and sentence)
Daily Reading Practice
Writing work (I think I may have her start a journal)
Metal Insets to practice pencil control
Finish Polygon work
Intro to shapes (using the metal insets since I dont have a geometry cabinet)
Composition of the Earth
Formation of Mountains
Sun and Earth (space, if we get to it)
Same as Bunny, but using the Primary Albums
Finish lesson 4 and 5
Redo God With No Hands
Start the Physical Science album from Karen Tyler. Bunny never did it, so I will do it with them both and Bunny and I can explore it deeper.
Sensorial Bell Work
Notation (If we get to it)
So there you have it! Like I said this is our plan for now. Bunny and I are going to sit down together each morning and write out a work plan. This worked really well today, so I have a great hope that is will appeal to her very organized personality. Today her work was:
adjective/ noun family,
state of matter presentation,
Grain Study (she asked to add this because this is what she wanted to learn about)
And we did it all! She had a good time, there was no major crying fits from her, and she was happy! Hooray! After she finished the traditional work, she wanted to see what kinds of grains would turn into flour when it is ground. We looked at some of the books we had about early humans and saw how they first ground grains a long time ago. So she asked if she could explore it with the mortal and pestle we have. I told her sure. She tried dried beans, corn, and oats. The oats were easiest and she spent an hour grinding them up into flour and sifting out the hard bits. She wants to do more tomorrow to make bread. Today she ended up with about a half a cup of flour!
Today we had our second Great Lesson and it was really great! This lesson uses the Time Line of Life to help show the kids how much life has changed since it started as a small drop of jelly. The Time Line serves as a point of research as they start to have questions that they want know about. It is a very large and it was fun to see them so impressed with all the animals and plants that were on the timeline. I made ours and it was a TON of work. I really do think that I may buys the set next year if I have money. But in the mean time this one worked well! I also wanted to find a way to send it home with the kids that joined us so that they can keep researching. So…with a couple of nights of hand drawing, I was able to make a small printable version of the tradition Time Line of Life! I am of course going to share this with you today! You can download it HERE! We had the same group as last week and I was super impressed with all the great work that they did together! I love that they are able to work together to find out new information! Here are the pictures of all the work that they did today!
Well today was the big day…we had our first great lesson! I was all ready for it and was super excited! Plus to make it even better, we had some of our friends over to join us for the lesson! It was really exciting! I didnt have a chance to get alot of pictures of the lesson (I only have so many hands) but I did make sure to take pictures of the demonstrations! I had everyone read the story before hand because I had heard that for alot of classes the story with the demonstrations were really long and that there were issues with the kids being able to absorb everything at once! So I thought that if we read the story first, then they would be able to think about the story and give be excited by the experiments without getting overwhelmed. To be honest, I’m not sure if it helped, but the kids sure remembered alot of it! They were really interested in all of it and they loved having the charts and experiments to go with the story! We got started right away and it went so well! Here are the pictures that I have. I made the charts myself and I am also offering them to you, my readers for your own classroom! 🙂 All you need to do to download them is click the link below the picture!
Today we “officially” started school for the year! We are starting small and easy for the next week or two before we dive into the Great Lessons and all the new work. I think that all of us need time to readjust and get focused. Now as a homeschooler, we tend to forget things like school pictures! So when I found out about the Not back to school blog hop and their school picture week, I knew I was going to have to try some of the fun ideas I have seen on pintrest! Here are the results! My little students for the year!
The girls were pretty excited to start school today and both of them were ready to jump right in! The morning went really fast and both girls were rather tired after all their work! We started off the day with getting all of the new school supplies out and organizing the folders for finished work. After that I showed the girls where everything had moved and how to do the new trays. For my trays I have not done any themes, just stuck to the basics for now! You know me, I am sure that there will be some theme trays later!
I dont know about you, but I love to see pictures of people school rooms! Especially as the new school room is about to begin! That is why, when I found out about the 4th Annual “Not”Back-to-School Blog Hop, I knew I just had to join in the fun! Last week was all about curriculum and this week we are talking school rooms! Awesome right?
So as many of you know, my school room is in my basement. After moved in, my hubbie remodeled the basement to make it a really amazing space! Having a Contractor for a hubbie has its perks! 😉 We have some built ins at the far end for shelves and I also added one in the middle (you know how much space Montessori takes)! We have two small tables for the girls to use as well a big one. I find that the girls tend to pick the small table for tray work, but when there is a lot of writing or bigger work, they choose the large table! So everything is there! This year my issue was how to have both levels with enough space for each in one room. I found more space by putting away alot of my book and getting rid of some other ones. I also moved everything around so that there is more logical “area” for each subject. It doesnt look too different at first glance, but I hope it will make things better. Anyway, on the pics! That is what you are here for!
I am linking up to some Parties!
Yesterday we headed out to a garden type park near our house! It was a really beautiful day! The sun was shining, the weather was pleasant in the trees, and there was so much for the kids to do. There were giant musical instruments, a natural inspired obstacle course, a bridge over a bubbling brook, a cave to crawl through, and a little play hut! All of this was surrounded by community gardens and a small wooded area! As my friend and I sat there I realized that the kids were SO happy and peaceful. This area seemed to calm them, excite them, and allow them to play without us having to get involved too much. In fact, with my girls, I could have sat there and read a book while they were happily involved in their own explorations. It really made me think alot about the natural playground movement. There is a group of people out there who have found that playground who use natural materials provide kids with a better chance to use their imagination, and move at the same time. I really do think that there is something to that. If you give a child a stick, it is amazing to see what they do with it. They make it a sword, a spoon, a walking stick…pretty much anything! Just as Maria Montessori discovered, children are draw to a respond to natural products! Nature speaks to their souls and feed their minds. It calms their bodies and inspires creativity. So much from something so simple. In fact I think that most kids need time outside. My girls need me to get them outside several days a week at least (even it there is rain or snow). What do they do? The play, they sit and think, then make things, they find peace. Have you found similar things with your kids? Does going outside seem to make them feel better?