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North America Contient Box

Well I promised posts about our north America study, and I had all the pictures uploaded and ready to go. But then I realized that I never even shared the pictures of our North America contient box and I needed to fix that first! So how about a few North America posts? Sounds good to me right? Well here we go!

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The Details: I have made all the cards by using google images. It was very time consuming, but a little more budget friendly! In an ideal world they would be 3- part cards that have words on all of them, but right now they are just pictures since I couldn’t afford to print 2 set of everything (I spent $120 as it was). I think that the boxes look pretty good, but I do view them all as an on going project. I figure that we can add to them as we go! So here is North America!

This box includes:
~Pictures of people in North America
~Pictures of Birds of North America
~Pictures of Places in North America
~Pictures of Animals in North America
~Deer, Bear, Whales, Beaver, Raccoon, Dolphin, Mustang, Flamingo, alligator, Bison, and other North American Animal figures.
~Money from Canada, Mexico, and United States
~ Landmark Figures in North America
~ Boot from Texas
~ Bracelet from the Bahamas
~ Leather Belt Buckle
~ Native American Beaded Moccasin necklace
~ Some treasures from Puerto Rico give to us by friends that live there
(I think that the girls were looking at these, since they didn’t make the picture lol)
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Our continent Study has been going on now for about a month and the girls have had a lot of fun exploring the boxes. I have a lot of people wonder how to use them and to be honest, it took me a while to figure out a good way to do it! But I think that this has been the year we utilized them the most! Pup loves to look through them and just sort the items. She also love to match the animals to the cards that are in the box. Bunny is ready for a bit more research. Right we have an area of the continent that we are working each week. One week we are talking about the countries and the landmarks we find there. Another week we talked about the animals and the climate of the continent. And then one week talked about the different foods in the continent and what grows where. When we are looking for information about something, Bunny can easily get out the animals from that continent or find out what food is eaten there without too much work for me! Plus if she wants to learn more about something, she can look and see new things! So that is how we are using them right now! If you want to see more of my continent boxes, you can see them here! How do use your continent boxes? Are they are goof learning resource for you? Share your ideas! I would love to hear them!

Adventures

This weekend was an amazing one here for our family. It was a couple of days full of family time that we all needed really badly. On Saturday afternoon, we headed out to a festivel/ flea market. Bunny and Pup love looking at all the old, odd, and interesting treasures that you see at flea markets type places! We found a few things. A globe, a picture of the Good Shepherd for my Atrium, and some interesting colored dice. Just little fun things! The girls really enjoyed it!

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Today we headed out to the apple orchard! Bunny wanted to go and pick some apples, but we couldn’t find a good or affordable place to do that this year. So we found this new place nearby that had some beautiful apples and other fun things! There were awesome pumpkins and all sorts of fruit and veggies! Plus there were some fun corn stalk horses! There were so clever and adorable! I had never seen anything like that! We ended up with a a bushel of apples, some new spices, and some apple chips! Plus they had a little bakery and candy shop. So we of course got some chocolate too! Here are a few pictures of our little adventure there!

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After that we headed down the road to the park with the lighthouse. It is a place we go every year together and it is always pretty and fun! Today was good too. We climbed rocks, took funny pictures, family pictures, and adventure pictures, and we just had fun!

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Finally we drove for a while and came across the causeway to an island nearby! We headed over and found an old Confederate solider cemetery, and the most amazing quarry area with houses built on a hill! They were big, beautiful, and original homes! It was like finding a diamond in a rock! The rest of the island is like every other island I have ever seen, but this one had a bit of a surprise! 😉 As we drove out, we saw a few deer. We stopped and my hubbie tried to feed them! We took an apple and dropped it out the window. The deer came up and ate it! It there was no car behind use, I think we may have been able to pet it!

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So that was our weekend! Lots of little, fun, family things that were perfect! I hope that your weekend was good to. Heading back into a new work week and lots of learning fun! Maybe we will head out to a park! Happy Everything to you all!

 

Letting Go and Moving On

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It seems that I have been thinking a lot about the materials that make up a huge part of the Montessori way of educating. They seem to quickly becoming less and less necessary and I have say that makes me a little sad. Plus a little unsure if I did it all right. Since we didn’t use all the materials, I am afraid that I missed something really important. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bunny is doing really good and understands everything in her math work. But she didn’t do the memorization sequances because they bore her horribly. She began to hate math and that is what I didn’t want to happen. So I switched to doing what she thought was fun and that was worksheets. So we went with that. She would rather use her hands and head to work things out and I think that the memorization will come with time. However, it means that all those materials I bought are now sitting on a shelf and have been replaced with an $18 workbook. We do use them, just not often. Pup…well she is DONE with so much of the 3-6 sensorial and practical life work that it worries me a bit! After all she is only four! I managed to get her interested in the knobless cylinders, but it is forced and not something is wanting to do. So I ask again, when is letting go of materials good and when is it too soon? After what is the goal of the materials? The goal is to get the child to a place where they can know the information and apply it on their own without the materials! So if Bunny is applying her math skills without the beads and boards, then that is ok. She is learning, abstracting and understanding math. Pup is pouring her own water, sweeping the floor, and easily grading and sorting things. So maybe its time that I let go. Some materials are needed long term and some,…..well some just aren’t needed any more. I think that we are there. They are growing, changing, and so should I. Nothing stays the same and if the materials accomplished their work, then its time to make way for new learning opportunities! Plus, if we missed something I can always grab then back out right? 😉 What do you think? Weigh in! I would love to hear how you handle this issue of moving forward and maybe what you do when the materials aren’t working! Happy Schooling!

Cooking With Books~ Apple Cake

Are you ready for fall? That is the question I keep hearing here. However, with the 100 degree weather we had here today, I can say NO. But it is September and I know that it is coming! 🙂 So in order to start getting us into the mood of fall cooking, my friend and I picked an apple recipe for this month’s cooking with books! Turned out it was YUMMY! Our book is Apple Cake : A Recipe for Love. And here is what the recipe in the back of the book turned out!

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It was a lot of fun for the kids to cook this one! There were a lot of steps so there was lots for them to do! I love our cooking day! Have your gotten cooking lately with your kids?

School Days

This week we jumped right into school work! I took the weekend to regroup a bit a fix some of the things that were not working quite right. Since we are using Modern Curriculum Press math program, I realized that the way it was laid out needed some creative thinking to keep it interesting for Bunny long term. I needed to get Pup started with some more math work. She has mastered the first stage of the math work and now we are starting with Golden Bead! She is really excited! Another thing that Bunny started was her robotics program. Its been tricky and I know that she is going to have to work hard at it. However, I know that she can do it and I know she really wants to do it! Finally we started our geography with a quick review of the oceans! Here are some pictures of the work from this week so far!

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So there we have the start to our week! I think that it has gone well so far! Tomorrow we are going to keep our schedule going! Wish me luck! 😉 I hope your week is going well too! Happy Schooling!

Fair Projects

This year Bunny and I entered some items in the fair! Bunny entered some legos and I entered three different photos I took in Chincoteague. Bunny’s lego creation had to be fair themed and I think she did a great job! We headed out to fair today to see how we did!

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Bunny won third place in her class and was really excited! Although I think she was more excited about building it then winning anything! That is what I want her too!

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I won an honorable mention for my Lighthouse picture! But we did lots more then just look! We rode rides, ate fair food, and saw some family and their projects!

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It was a great day like it is every year! They just seem to love this part of their Dad’s childhood and I think now it is a very deep part of their! It is so much fun for them and for me! I see a lot more Labor Days spent here with my amazing loving family! Happy Weekend everyone!

 

10 Tips for Making the Prefect Learning Space

When I showed off my little school space  I got a ton of sweet comments on how much you loved it! It got me thinking about what a Montessori space needs and how to give you tips for making your very own space! Maria Montessori really believed that the environment was one of the teachers of children! What a totally interesting way to look at interior design. The room is a teacher. So what is your Montessori space teaching? That is the question. How do you ensure that the space your children are spending time in is teaching in its own way? Well here are a few tips that I think can help as you plan your space:

1) Simple is Better: You don’t need a ton of stuff on the walls, or piles of stuff on shelves. Kids can only focus and learn concentration when there is less distractions. Like a room that is too noisy, environmental noise often makes it hard for kids to tune out. So keep art work in a contained area (like a frame, buliitain board, or line with clips) and educational posters to a minumun. I also found that those posters are more interesting if they framed or matted, and compliment your deocr. Work on the shelf is better if there is breathing room between the items. Last year I piled all of the wooden boxes of work one on top of the other. However, the girls never chose them that way. Once I separated everything and gave it room, they were more interested in it. So clear those shelves of work no longer needed or toys that aren’t nessesary! Simple is better!

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2)Get Low: Seriously, sit down on your knees and see what your kids see. That beautiful arrangement family photos you put out for your baby to look at my be too high for her to see. That darling wooden train that you just know your two year old will love, maybe too high on a shelf. So climb down on the floor to see what your kids are going to need for space, height, and ease of use. However, that doesn’t mean you will always be able to fix things that are too tall. Shelves are pretty standard on height and the bathroom sink will always be high! So don’t forget to find a good step stool to help with those places where things are just where they are. Make it a part of the design of your room. That will make some of those things on the top of a shelve accessible if they need to be. It will allow you to be sure they can get what they need, while still utilizing all the space you have. This is the first step to learning independce and self ability!

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3) Make it Cozy: This is your home, not a preschool, so make it a cozy space. In a school setting they need to be careful about how many soft objects they have because of the germ factor. You however, don’t need to worry about that! So add some pillows, bring a soft chair, and center the room with a rug! Cozy can make you comfortable. And there is no rule saying that learning needs to be uncomfortable! Besides, stories are just better in a big chair. When learning is comfortable it become something special that you want to do again!

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4) Make it Pretty: A pretty space is one that people want to spend time in, and you are going to want your learning space to a place that is happy to be in. So add some color to the walls that you love, hang some pictures, and make it look the way you want to. It dosnt have to be really expensive or a huge undertaking. Making a space your is as simple as adding things that are beautiful to you. In my school room there is a Trojen Horse on the shelves that was my grandma’s and I love it. It has nothing to do with our school room other then I like to look at it! 🙂 Often this is where people don’t know where to start making it theirs. So start a pintrest board and pin rooms that inspire you. You will never make it look just like it, but you may find something that will help you design your room into the perfect space for your family. Start doing it bit by bit. The more beauty you can add, the more inspired your kids will be. Remember, beauty is individual! So whether bearuty to you is giant lego monsters, ethereal fairies, or a mason jar of flowers it is going to make your space special to you! And that will make the time you spend there special too! Beauty is what inspires us to make things better and giving your child beauty will help them see the good all around them.

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5) Books and more Books: As an interior decorator, I know that there is really something about books that make a room real. Seriously, this is huge decorator tip, add books! If you look at any decorator magazine, in every room you will find some books somewhere! Books are real, they are personal, and they are ever changing, plus they are educational! Take time with your books. Don’t just shove them on a shelf, they are a huge part of learning and they are also a huge tool to making your learning space awesome! Place them in a basket, sort them by color, stack them on their sides, or arrange them by subject. Whatever you know will work for you! Just don’t shove them all into a closet hidden away (some maybe if you have as many as we do)! Make them an indepensible part of the room. Trust me it will make a difference in not just how the room looks, but how your kids view books in their life!

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6) Add Nature: Ready for another decorators tip? Add some natural elements. Nature brings in life. It bring the feeling of peace, renewal, and freashness. So add some nature. Maybe its a collection of tresures from a walk, maybe you have a pet fish, or maybe you have a little plant to care for. Fill a jar with pretty rocks, have a vase filled with sticks you collect, or have a basket of log blocks to work with! There are a million ways to add nature to you room, and so many of them are easy and free! Its a simple way to add to the beauty of the environment! Plus you are teaching your kids that nature is special. important, and a source of information!

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7) Display it with love: The room that you are creating is for your kids, so there needs to be a place to display those trasures that they will always find time to make. A picture draw well, an elephant sculpted from clay, or a robot made out of pop bottles! Whatever it is, kids are naturally creative and always ready to share their work with you and the world! So foster that love of expression by making a special place for their work to live. Stick the 3d picecs on a shelf, have childrens art frames for the wall, or a bullitain board for their art work. Find a way to display their work in an attractive way to let them know that you value the time they put into it! They worked hard and you want to praise that. Simply, placing that work somewhere special for all to see will speak volumes! Plus, you wont need to spend money on art for your room! You will have one of a kind original pieces ready for display whenever you need it.

8) Keeping it Clean: As with any space how you can keep looking good is the tricky part! So when you are placing the work on the shelves, or buying things for your room, think about how easy it will be for the kids to maintain what you have set up. Does everything have a place? Is it easy to put things on the shelf or do you have to put things a certain way to make it fit? If you have a lot of art supplies like me, are work surfaces easy to clean? Can the floor be swept or do you need a vacuum? Can the kids get to the stuff they need to help clean the space? It is a space for them after all, so they should help maintain it. That not only will give you a break, it will also help them make the room feel like theirs! So when you are planning think about the cleaning too! Keeping spaces organized is an essential skill for life, so why not start early!

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9) Eclectic variety: Variety is the spice of life right? It can also add some spice to your learning space. Make sure that you have things out for working with that cover a wide variety of subject areas. You never know when your little ballerina is suddenly going to want to become an geologist because she found a pretty rock! Or maybe your avid cowboy suddenly wants to know how his body works! Sometimes new interests are started all at once and totally randomly, so having a learning space that is full of variety to support that is important. Make sure there are science materials, worldwide culture activities, natural elements to play with, and historical things to explore! Remember, learning is about more then lessons, it is about the passion and drive to find out more about something!

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10) Ages and Stages: Finally, don’t forget that your child will not be the same size forever! Make sure that the space can grow with them. If you make the room way too baby oriented, then you will need to redo your work later when they are older. So make it something that they can enjoy later too. Plus, keep in mind that you want the space to be a place where older kids and younger kids can work together! If one child is older and one is younger, then if you make sure the space is compatible for both of them. When they are working together, then amazing learning happens! Plus learning to share a space is such a good lesson that is easy to learn in you own home.

So those are some tips that should help you create an awesome learning place for your kiddos! Not matter what ages you have and or where your space is, there is always a way to make it a special part of your life! Don’t forget that you don’t need to do it all at once either! Change things as you or as you find the perfect element to add. Before you know it, your learning space will be a beautiful reflection of your family! What is your favorite tip to make your learning space perfect?

 

Meet Cindy

The other day while we were out at the store, I came across one of those buildable body models with squishy organs. I always thought that we should get one, and Pup was so interested. She was just looking at it and holding it and begged for it. So I bought it for her (Bunny thought it was gross). When we got home, she wanted to open it up so badly that she almost didn’t want to watch tv! The next morning she was ready to build it again at 6 in the morning! She informed me later that the body’s name was Cindy! And so Cindy has become a new member of our classroom! She is inspiring a whole new study in the human body! Pup is wanting to read books, make pictures, and all other sorts of work! She even knew exactly which Magic School Bus episode she wanted to see! With all of this enthusiasm, I see Pup starting a pretty deep study on the body. She seems to work really well when she is immersing herself in a certain topic (do you remember the cheetah project). So I now I need to make a few materials and to find a pile of books! Here are some pictures of Pup and Cindy, plus an art project that she really wanted to do with her body!

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I love it when the girls find something that they are really passionate about! When this inspires more learning, I get really excited. I mean seriously, this is what learning is all about. It is about finding out about the things that interest us and really finding joy in the discovery! So this is what I was waiting for from this year. Finding something amazing to learn about. Pup is excited and I am happy to help her learn whatever she wants to! What do you do when your kiddo finds something that they just have to know about? How do you inspire learning?

Friday Five~ Geography

Today we are sharing some of my favorite Montessori items! I love love love the way Montessori treats Geography! It is like an adventure to meet new friends and find new places to play! I think that every kid should be able to view the world as an exciting and interesting place to visit! So how do we do this? By puzzle maps, continent boxes, and just plain exploring! So here are my Friday Five picks!

1) Continent Boxes: These are so much fun! Each continent gets a box and inside are pictures, items, and other things that help the child get a collective idea of what each continent is about! In ours we have pictures of landmarks, people, food, instruments, birds, and animals that are from the continent. I also have souvenirs, money, animal figures, etc from different countries in the continent! What do we do with these? Explore them! Its fun to take a tour. Plus for Bunny, I ask her to find a picture that she likes and we research it more! By the way, I made my own cards (took DAYS) but you can buy them at Montessori Print Shop! Right now they are having a sale! Here is a link for the 20% off!

2) Puzzle Maps: LOVE these! All of a sudden learning where countires are is a game! We have the contient puzzle and we use it all the time! I use the puzzle pieces for stencils, we use it for learning where things are, and my girls loved to match the puzzle pieces to the other contient things in the school room!

3) Sandpaper Globe/ Continet Globe: If you can buy only one, go for the colored one! We use it all the time! Not just for geography but also for space work too, and for our celebration of life birthday tradition! Plus its small for little hands to use!

4) True Books Continent Collection: This is a great set of books to have on hand so when someone decides that they love a certain continent, you can have a place to start researching! I got the whole collection at Rainbow Resources for only $28! I can see us using these a lot this year since we will be doing one continent at month!

5) Global Babies/ Children Around the World: These books are some that we have on our shelves at home. Global Babies is great book that I love to give to small kids. It is a board book filled with pictures of babies all over the world! I find that little one love looking at other babies, and this book is a fun way to start geography. The Children Around the World book is published by UNICEF. It is a bit out dated, but still offer an interesting (if slightly narrow) look into the lives on children in other countries. It shows their favorite food, where they go to school, what their families look like, and other bits about the children. It is not the perfect picture of each country, but it is a great place to start! My kids found it interesting to look at the differences and the similarities between them selves and other kids. It is a really good book!

So those are my pick! As always, I would love to see what you would choose! Be sure to pop over to Montessori Moments and see what other homeschoolers picked as their favorite resources in geography! Plus, link up while you are there! We love it when people play along! I hope you are all having a great week! Happy Schooling!

Farmers Market Day

Today we headed out to a local farmers market! My girls have been wanting to go and they were SO excited to go. It was all they talked about yesterday and this morning! I wasn’t sure if they were going to love it as much as they thought they would, but they did! We got some amazing peaches, a watermelon, some eggplant, raspberries, and of course some sunflowers! Here are some pictures I managed to grab while we were there!

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It was a lot of fun to stop and take the time to really look at the produce that we eat. Bunny was so excited to look at all the fruits and veggies. I think that she even wanted to try to make something special with all the things there. Pup knew exactly where she had seen some raspberries and was determined to but them. It was so interesting to see how much they like buying things that they normally would never even ask for (like eggplant). It makes me think a lot about trying to get there more often and letting them put some ideas together of things that they could make out of the produce. I mean, lets face it, what is more practical then learning to make good food out of what is in season? There is a beauty to this shopping local grown food. You see shopping for food as something fun, not just a mission to accomplish and get home as quick as you can. It become a way to be creative with meals, not just cooking to live. It becomes a bonding experience with the people you are around somehow. It is as if you are all there looking for the beauty of eating together, even though you may not know anyone at all. And unlike shopping in a store, it was fun for me and my girls together. No one was begging to leave and upset about being there! If it were closer and easier to get to, I may do it more often. But for now, we will go when we can and soak up the nobility of the food. Do you take time to shop at a farmers market? What do you think about the experience?

PS. Lest you think I went all super mom and became a responsible local eating wonder woman, I will say that my darling ate corndogs with all the fresh fruits and veggies for dinner! 😉 It kinda balanced out right?

moon.leilani@mailxu.com