Learning with Play

Natural Problem Solving!



 Today we headed out to the park with some friends to spend the morning on the playground! The girls were excitied and to be honest, so was I! 😉 I love having some time with friends to sit and talk while the kids play. We got to the playground and kids ran off to play. After a while though, they found a path in the woods behind the playground that they wanted to explore. So off they went (and so did we)! What they found was huge pile of logs and branches! HM (age 5) started moving them all into a pile. He said he was making a fire! But then a huge log caught his eye! He was climbing on it and having a great time. Before we knew it, all the kids were over there with him! Looking at this log, finding walking sicks, and adding to the “fire”. While they were playing, one of them had the idea to move the log over to the “fire” So all 5 of them tried to move it, but it was too big. So Bunny stood back thinking for a bit. She took a smaller log and stuck it under the end as a lever to life it up. It worked and she was very excited! Her friend CM (age 6) quickly decided that she could lift it up after Bunny got it up in the air! Well it was still too heavy, so they thought that they could try rolling it, but was facing the wrong way. So Bunny came up with the idea to roll it on an angle till it was the other way, then roll it to the “fire”! This almost worked! After that they decided that it was too much work! 🙂 I really thought it was so amazing though to sit and watch them work ideas out together. They were so enthusiastic and so happy to try and work all this out! This is one thing that I really think Bunny will miss not going to a Montessori school. There just isn’t as many opportunities for her to work in a group to learn and I can see how that is important! I am thinking of some more ideas to try and make that happen this year, but we will see! I really think that the ability of kids to find ideas and try them out is just amazing! When left alone, they really can find some creative solutions and even try ancient tools to accomplish they want to!  I really love moments like this. Having a moment to observe the kids is like getting a glimpse into their minds and how they work! This one showed me so much in a few minutes! 🙂 Witnessing moments like this are a blessing that keeps me excited about learning more about how kids learn! 🙂 Happy Schooling!
PS: Sorry about the bad pictures. All I had was my phone and it really doesnt take good pictures. The kids kept saying, “Ms. Stephanie take a picture” and I didnt have my camera! So Sad!

Observation

If you have been reading along here for the past few weeks, you know that we are currently on a school break, but that we are still learning plenty! In the past week, my girls have done math, reading, biology, geography, writing, and a few other things as well. The best part of it all is that my girls have no idea that they are “doing school”! I love that! As you can see from the pictures above, Bunny did some follow up map work from the book study she was doing the other day!  I love that watching what they are interested in and what draws their attention is giving me a chance to provide learning opportunities that are perfect and effortless! Bunny told my friend the other day that we arent doing school, and I said that we were still learning. Bunny said that she like to learn, but only when it is fun like it has been! 🙂 What I simply love is the ability to sit back and see what Maria Montessori saw, learning is seamless and deep if the child is allowed to work! Oh sure there is way more to this, but observation is a key! Without it, we can only give work that we think they need and this isnt always right. This is what I think happened to us at the end of the year. In Montessori, there is a plan, but following the child is the most important. To do this we need to watch and listen, to see what is capturing their passions and interest, and then present ideas accordingly. In hind sight, I realize that there were certain presentations that I should have done a LONG time ago, but I wasnt watching closely enough. I thought I needed to follow the proper path set out in the albums. But sometimes this is not what the child is trying to learn! One example of this would be the math facts with Bunny. She was so excited to learn them back in the winter. I should have pulled out the addition strip board then and there, but I waited until we had gotten though what I thought I needed to present to her. What happened? She lost interest and was board with the work when I showed it to her. If I had showed it to her back in the winter, would she have worked with it joyfully like a game instead of grumbling over it? Maybe. Maybe not. So once again, I find myself trying to get back to the basics of what Maria Montessori discovered about teaching children. Observation is important and should be done daily. Sitting and watching is good, but sometimes there isnt time for that. Sometimes it is taking note of something that your child shows you, and idea that they share, a picture that they drew for you, or a book they are carrying around! What makes observing easier is that kids usually want to share something that they think is really cool or that they are proud of! Are they pointing to letters and making sounds like they are reading, it maybe time for sandpaper letters. Can they count to 100 by 10s? Then they are ready for bead chains. It may not always be that easy, but alot of times it can be! That being said, I have been thinking that maybe it would be fun to have a book discussion here on the blog! I am hoping that some of you would be interested in joining me reading The Montessori Method or the Secret of Childhood together! Once a week, I will post my thoughts and you can share yours! We can all get back to basics together! If you are interested, please leave a comment and let me know! Happy Schooling!
Oh and if you get a moment, stop by Circle of Moms and vote for your favorite blog! I am there along with a bunch of other amazing blogs!

Fraction Action and Oceans of Fun!

Well last night Bunny asked me something about fractions and I offered to pull out my fraction circles if she wanted me to. Well she was SUPER excited about this and begged me to pull them out and leave them on the table for her! So after she went to bed, I pulled them out a brushed up on my fraction presentation! By morning she was downstairs and ready have a presentation before we even got dressed! I was happy that after my initial presentation of the names, she worked with the circles for about a half hour! First she built them all, then she stacked them all up. I guess we are going to be doing a little work this summer after all! 😉

Later on this afternoon I let the girls play with their ocean animals in some water! We had a wonderful time filling the bottom of the buckets with sand and adding blue water and ocean animals! They had a blast! Bunny had the Ocean Toob that she bought with her own money! I bought the Coral Reef Toob for the kids since we had no fish for our continent boxes! These are what we used for our fun! After the sand fun, I filled up the kiddo pool and the kids played ocean there too! Learning with play is awesome!

So our day was fun filled and simple, yet it was a great learning day! Summer has been great! I hope your summer is going great too! Happy Learning with Play!


Oceans of Fun!

Today I suggested a project idea to the girls and Bunny thought it was a must! I suggested that they use crayon to draw ocean animals and then we could use blue water color over it to make the water! Bunny loved the whole idea, Pup really wanted to paint! 😉 So, this afternoon, I pulled out all the materials! Both girls worked really hard on their oceans and they turned out really well! Bunny really drew so many great animals. It was a fun way to see what she had learned from all the things that we read about! Pup drew a fish all by herself and colored in some that I drew for her. They had a great time!

Here is Bunny;s painting. She included a crab, starfish, sea turtle, fish, sea dragon, and dolphin.

Here is Pup’s. She made a rainbow fish and the orange fish all by herself!
This art inspired more art and they needed to make another one too! 🙂 After that they just painted! I guess its been a while since did a project!

Bunny’s other art!

Pup’s Art work!

This is the painting Pup made after all the other painting! She did it completely on her own!

Here is Bunny’s free art! This is another ocean scene. Seaweed, octopus, crab, seahorse, etc!
After all of this, Pup got interested in doing some school work! Hmmm…who knew? So I pulled out the shell matching work from a while ago. She really wasnt interested, but both girls loved looking at my shell collection! They each wanted a shell to “keep”.  I let them and the next thing I knew, they were getting all the materials out for scrubbing a shell! Bunny helped Pup and showed her how to do it right! They scrubbed shells for a while and then cleaned up all by themselves! I am rediscovering how Montessori isnt about the materials, but about real learning from the child!

So that was our day! Despite all that we did today, it was relaxed and happy! Both girls learned and I was peaceful! Learning at its best! I hope you are all having a GREAT weekend! Happy Schooling!

More Arctic Fun!

Today we had some friends over for a play date and I thought it would be fun to share our theme with them! So I used my stand by play dough recipe and made some snow play dough! I used lots of white glitter and peppermint flavoring (peppermint just smells cold). Then I got out all of the animals from the Arctic Toob, some pinecones, some rocks,our arctic cookies cutters, and some books about the arctic. I set all of these out on the table and I gave a quick little talk about the arctic and Antarctica. Then I let the girls and boys create what ever winter arctic scene they wanted. I loved to hear Bunny and her friend talking about what the polar bears do, and talking about the cold! They were all so creative made some really great scenes! Here are some pictures of their work!

Here is Bunny’s first one. She has the polar bears getting ready to eat the seals!

Here is Bunny’s friend’s first one.

This one is HM’s (age 3)

Here is a slightly reworked one that Bunny did.

This is Bunny’s friend’s. She added an iceberg in the water and penguin foot prints!

Here is Pup hard at work!

RM is Pup’s age and doing a great job too!

I think that this is another one that Bunny made.

This one is RM. She ended up finding some Australian animals! It looks good though!
They all turned out so well! I love that this project allowed the kids to be creative, think about how the environment would be, and to think about how the animals and people would interact in that environment. It is such a great way to reinforce our lesson from the other day while having a ton of fun! This is one of those things that really does so much to inspire learning, and the kids think that they are just playing! 🙂 Another really sweet moment that happened during our play time, was that the girls set up a party. They had a table clothe, dishes properly set at each spot, guests that were invited, and they passed plates, talked kindly, and were just so polite! It made me see that they are learning all about proper behavior while they play and there just cant be a better way to help them with those grace and courtesy lessons! So that was our fun today! I love that they all had fun and learned at the same time! How do your kids learn while they play? Share your favorite moments and activities that help kids learn while having fun!

The {not so messy} Rice Sensory Play!

Today I needed to find something for Tadpole to do and rice is what I had on hand. Now, contrary to all Montessori Principles, I hate free sensory play when it has the potential to sped all over my house like a disease. I am good with play dough, I love to paint, I will bake all day, but give me a sensory bin that can be spilled a million ways….well let just say my kids have only done it a few times! The fact is I LOVE the idea of sensory bins! They are beautiful, and wonderful, and everything a kid loves! I really wish I was better about it, but I’m not. So today I really tried to think a way to let Tadpole have fun without me having rice ALL OVER MY KITCHEN!!!! So I tried to show him how to play in the bowl only. This work for a bit. He was very deliberate about his movement, but let’s face it, its just more fun to pour it really fast! 🙂 So, in a small stroke of genius, I put him and the bowl of rice on a table cloth in the middle of the kitchen! It was wonderful! The rice stayed mostly on the tablecloth, and Tadpole was able to really experiment with the rice! It turned out really well and when he was done I poured the rice back in the bowl, shook the cloth outside, and swept up the few remaining bits of rice! Perfect way to do rice!

How do you do let you kids have some sensory fun without having a huge mess too?


Not your normal work day!

Today was rather fragmented, but it was good. We were able to do alot of work, just not normal work! Bunny did a few golden bead problems, but only after I promised to let her work on some math problems using her cash register (calculator)! I must have the only girl that will do math with the promise of more math! Then, she was done! So I got creative and played some math games with her. I have never talked to her about greater or less then, so I introduced her to the alligator that eats large numbers. She was able to do it perfectly with no problem! She really had no problem! So we moved on to language! I pulled out the old stand by Boggle game. I found the words in the block and Bunny read them and wrote them down. Not quite the regular rules, but it worked! 🙂 Then later that afternoon, I showed her some new Knobless Cylinder extensions! I have been trying to get her into working with some more with sensorial things. She just never picks that stuff, so I wanted to help her! She had alot of fun, and Bug even jumped in! It was great! Here are a few of the pictures of our work today.

Tadpole is really trying to work with trays! I am so happy that he is trying work with trays! Now if only I could figure out how to get him to not mix, dump, and eat the work! 😉

I presented Bug with the Binomial Cube!
 She really like it and even got it put into the box properly after a couple of tries!

Pup worked with the puzzle map
(Bug helped her put it away!)

She also wanted to look through her global kids book! 🙂

Adding on the cash register!

Here we are playing Boggle.

Here she is doing greater then or less then.

We also played this GREAT matching game that we won from Apple N Amos. They have AMAZING stuff. You really should check out their shop! Its a children’s Christmas dream!

Here is Bunny trying working on the Knobless Cylinder extensions that I learned about from Colleen at Sunrise Learning Lab.

Here Bunny made a wall!

Here is the rainbow

Here is Bunny making sure that all the blue cylinders are there. She didn’t think that we had all of them so she helped Bug make sure! I love it when they work together!

So this was our day! Like I said it was fragmented, but good! I loved that thinking outside the box allowed us to keep learning even when no one felt much like it! Hooray for homeschooling! Let me know what you think of or work day ! I love hearing from you all! Happy Schooling!


Simon Says~ The Weather Version!!!!

Well as promised here is my post all about my new way of teaching about weather! I have made the focus on this week’s theme more about the nomenclature of the different types of weather. So I was trying to find a fun way to help the kid remember the names of different storms and weather. I thought that a game would be fun, so I made Simon Says~ The Weather Version! 🙂 Same rules as regular Simon Says, just we are going to be acting out weather. The actions I had were:

Rain
(fingers wiggling)
Snow
(fingers straight out and plopping down)
Cloud
(arms in an oval above her head)
Hot
(fanning face)
Cold
(arms around body shivering)
Wind
(blowing really hard)
Thunder
(clapping legs)
Lightening
(karate chopping air)
Tornado
(arms by sides and spinning around in a small circle)
Hurricane
(Arms wide out and spinning in big circles)
Sunshine
(arms in an arch above your head)
I, of course was Simon, and I played a few rounds with the different weather terms to help the get the idea. Then I took it up a notch and we did the different actions in the order that they would start in a storm! For example a hurricane it starts as really big wind out on the ocean, then it get bigger and starts blowing and spinning and raining (I had the kids blow, then spin slowly and get bigger by slowly putting their arms wide doing their rain fingers at the same time). For a thunderstorm we did rain fingers, and then thunder claps and lightening strikes and of course added in wind (it is a favorite). We further broke down the thunder by being clouds that are bumping together then doing the thunder claps! 🙂 For a tornado we made hot and then cold wind, then we started spinning and blowing!!! 🙂 It was a ton of fun and I think it is a fun, fast moving way to talk about different types of weather. The kids all loved playing it! Bug and Pup especially! So if you have any other ideas that I could use I would love to hear them! I kinda ran out of ideas faster then they ran out of energy! 🙂 Thanks for popping by!
holthaus@mailxu.com