Thursday, April 17, 2014

School Days: Flat Bead Frame, Checkerboard, Dot Game, and More

We have been very busy with kitchen planning.  All of the details are in place.  All of the sub-contractors are lined up.  The cabinets are ordered (hardest part so far) It FEELS like the hardest part is over.  I'm sure I'll be surprised, but I am hoping for smooth sailing.  I have been too busy to blog but not too busy to show the boys new Montessori work.


Kal-El is working on exercise 4B for the distributive law of multiplication.


He can't decide which he loves more, the flat bead frame....


...or the checkerboard.


In the meantime he is still making plans to move to Alaska where he will live off the grid while making a two-stage-to-orbit space plane that he will launch from Kodiak island so that he can live in space. He really likes the Solar Walk app on our iPad.  You can read a good review here. In the photo above he was reenacting the lunar eclipse that he and I got up in the middle of the night to watch earlier this week.  



Me Too has become our resident "lines" expert.  He chooses one of the "study of lines" works nearly everyday.  The booklet...


...Primary-style three-part cards (we have elementary-style cards with definitions also)...


...command cards (Albanesi).


Now that he has been introduced ALL parts of speech he has enjoyed pulling out the grammar farm and building some really big sentences.


"Uh-oh! The pig runs outside the barn really fast."

He is working on the stamp game and small bead frame in parallel right now.  He has worked through ALL of our equation drawers for addition, subtraction and multiplication with the stamp game.  He doesn't want to do the division equations until he has memorized his division facts.  So, while we are waiting for him to wrap up his memorization boards I introduced him to the dot game.


One thing I've never liked about this work is that the boxes for the carrying are near the bottom.  I always have wondered why they don't put the boxes at the top so that the kids notate the carrying the same way they will when they do the work purely on paper.  Things that make you go, "hmmm."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

School Days: Geography



I already knew that Me Too was enjoying a geography explosion.  It became super obvious when I started putting together a "school days" post and saw how many pictures I had of him working with various maps.  He seemed to be holding back from the pin maps for the past two months.  However, when he was ready he was really ready and has explored them more than even Kal-El has. Kal-El has been avoiding the new "Oceania" and "Caribbean" maps but Me Too jumped in with gusto.



Me Too wanted to demonstrate the sturdiness of our pins in the foamboard.




Me Too mastered the South America puzzle map and then tested his own knowledge with the pin map.  That is what got his feet wet and once he was in the water he didn't want to stop.  He moved right on to the flags.






He continued on right through the capitals.



After years of relative indifference, Me Too is finally interested in the Antarctica continent box.



Me Too hasn't been doing all of this geography alone.  Dueling pin maps are now a frequent sight.


Kal-El likes to practice the larger maps that he never really "mastered" 100%.  He has spent a lot of time with the Asia and Europe maps lately.  


I finished organizing my husband's coin collection so that it could be used in the continent boxes.  Thanks to his parents extensive travels he had an impressive collection.  Above Kal-El is admiring the coins in the Asia continent box.

The boys have been doing a lot of new work, particularly in math.  I'll try to get the other subjects up in a "school days" post soon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

First Piano Lesson


Me Too's first "real" piano lesson with Mommy.  I was going to wait until September (start of first grade like his brother) but he insisted that "today was the day!"  I was just eyeballing that Bjorn stool thinking, "Do we still need this around the house?"  I'm glad I figured out that we do before it went to the thrift shop.

Monday, March 24, 2014

School Days

It has been three weeks since I posted about our "school days" with both boys.  Here are some glimpses of our work over those several weeks.


Geometry lesson on convergent, divergent, and parallel lines.


Grammar Lesson on conjunctions.  We once again used ninjas instead of the traditional flowers.  It was kind of fun tying up the ninjas with the pink ribbon.


I also introduced adverbs...

  


...and prepositions.  


...and interjections. Wow!


I find it very unsatisfying that our discount grammar symbol tray has an extra spot.  We have all of the parts of speech on the tray but it doesn't look like it.  I need ideas for something fun and useful to put in that extra spot.  We have finally completed our first pass through MRD Language Arts, Vol. 1. We are immediately starting back at the beginning and with an emphasis on command boxes this time through.  It will go faster from here on out because I actually have all the materials made in advance this time.



Kal-El has been working on the distributive property with the bead bars.  The addition symbols are not necessary, nor is a multiplication sign.  Kal-El thinks it's really neat that putting a number outside of the parenthesis, or two sets of parentheses next to one another, is a secret code for multiplying so we definitely eliminate the multiplication sign these days.  

Our math cabinet now has a drawer each for the parentheses, white number cards, grey number cards, coin envelopes, -/+, X/=.  My mom made a whole pile of parentheses out of black cardstock on her Cricut.  THANKS MOM!  If you need a fast way to make your own number and operations tiles you can access my file for free here.  You will probably want to make two sets of the number tiles in case you want to set up two equations side-by-side and need the same number twice.




However, we tend to use the addition symbol to emphasize that we are not multiplying those numbers.  Kal-El kept thinking that we were because they were next to each other with no operator.  The bead bars here (without the operation sign) are a small bead snake so the child should know that they are being added together.




Kal-El was working on the division bingo board until he realized he hadn't memorized all of the equations during the previous boards, had a meltdown, and refused to do the work anymore until he has memorized the equations.  There are about five different ways to deal with this (such as repeating a previous board, doing the bingo board twice using the fingerboard in conjunction the first time but not the second, etc.,) but he wouldn't hear any of it for at least a day. What we wound up doing was supplementing the sequence with a fun division game from Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational:


He refuses to repeat any of the memorization boards, but he will happily work with them on the iPad.  He's been using the division bingo board on the iPad a lot in his free time.  The difference is that the program scaffolds the board by limiting the number of quotient tiles you have to choose from for each equation.

This made Me Too jealous that he didn't have a multiplication game to go along with his traditional boards.  So, I made him the Leprechaun's Luck game again from Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational.  


They love both games.  I'll probably also make him the Pot O' Gold multiplication game because it uses the same materials.  He uses the fingerboards right along with the game (currently the half board as in the picture.



This year I remembered to do the "Needs of Plants" presentation while it was still cold outside.  We do most of our botany in the summer, but it is hard to find a location for the fourth plant that has "no warmth" but still has light.  We have to do it in the winter.  Right now a pan of sprouts is growing on the kitchen counter for the "Plants Grow Toward the Light" demonstration.







Me Too has been working on multiplication with the stamp game.  It took about two weeks for him to abstract, much longer than addition and subtraction.  He now does the multiplication equations in his stamp game notebook without using any stamps.



Dueling bead frames!  Me Too has been introduced to the small bead frame.  He loves to get it out and work on addition equations while Kal-El works with multiplication on the large bead frame.  Kal-El is multiplying by two- and three-digit multipliers now.




Our paper is from the Keys of the Universe course. It is perfect.  The free versions I tried to use previously didn't have enough rows per page.  This makes it difficult to fit even one equation on the page when you have two- and three-digit multipliers, especially at the beginning when you decompose the multiplicand an extra time.  On the KotU paper we have room to do two equations if we are adding the zeros right away.  I also like that there is a spot on this paper for placing a "check" next to each row of the decomposed multiplicands as you add them to the bead frame.  

I want to add here, that I was overwhelmed by the large bead frame multiplication work after reading multiple presentations in several different albums.   I would never be able to successfully present it.  When I read Jessica's presentation in the KotU album I realized that she provided a script and that if I just read the script I couldn't mess it up.  It worked brilliantly.  Phew!



Kal-El varies the types of maps he chooses very frequently.  Here he is enjoying the Waseca stencils while Me Too records spelling words that I am dictating.




Here he is working with the state quarters map.  The continent boxes have also been out more than usual.


Me Too is not very interested in big projects.  I don't think he is entirely in the second plane yet. Kal-El always has a big project simmering.  I think this is Kal-El's favorite impressionistic chart.  He is still interested in living "off the grid" in space.  He has been working hard learning how to build rockets.  There are some great videos on YouTube, although I must warn you that your child will leave you "things needed" lists that include sugar, potassium nitrate, and a hand mixer (to make rocket fuel).  The funny thing about that list was that he misspelled "sugar" but spelled "potassium nitrate" perfectly.  


Right now he has followed a rabbit hole into the study of electricity as he is trying to discover a way to ignite the rocket fuel without blowing himself up.




Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pinewood Derby: We Did It Again!


This year BOTH boys participated in the Pinewood Derby.  Last year Me Too wasn't old enough, but Kal-El competed and took first place in his den and third place overall.


Here Me Too is celebrating with his Dad after realizing he had won first place in his den.  Kal-El was just as excited as he was and is behind him with his and on his shoulder.  Kal-El car was fast, but not nearly as fast as last year's.  We aren't entirely sure what went wrong but have some ideas.  He is already planning next year's car.


My husband obviously helps them build the cars, but doesn't build it by himself.  The boys do most of the work with their own hands.  My husband has to do most of the physical work in the wheel alignment process, but the boys did a lot of coaching.  They spend a couple of hours per week on the cars for about two months leading up to the derby.


Me Too was mobbed by his den when his car took first place in some of the finals heats.  They were chanting his name during the heats!


The boys, their cars, and their trophies.

I said, "Hey champ!" to Me Too at breakfast today.  He said, "You can just call me by my regular name.  It's okay if you call me champ sometimes, but usually just call me 'Me Too'."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Waylaid



At first, my blogging minutes were eaten up by the time I spent cutting holes in our kitchen soffits (nine total).  Fun job, but hard on my arms.  Switched from the drywall saw to the Dremel (opened my husband Christmas present for him, "from me" "to him". It turns out it was "from me" "to me.") The Dremel wasn't any faster but it was easier on my arms.  

Then my blogging time was re-directed to standing on a stepstool, staring at mysterious pipes and wires, and hypothesizing about where they might go.  This was followed by some cutting of holes in rooms that were NOT the kitchen.  
Lately, my blogging minutes have been eaten up while a long string of potential sub-contractors file through the house.  It appears I will be the "general contractor" on this job.  It's tricky.  I got a few quotes from real general contractors and couldn't afford the markup.  I'll be hiring real plumbers, electricians and drywallers so I don't anticipate losing my savings by missing out on materials discounts.  If I hear, "It's hard to tell you how much it's going to cost...blah, blah, blah...time and materials" one more time I might blow!  I just keep repeating, "I totally understand that, but you have to understand that I need at least a range with a high and a low so that I know if I'm going to have enough money to pay people when we are done."  It's taken all this just to order the cabinets and they still aren't ordered. I have at least two more meetings ahead of me before that can happen. It looks like sometime in May I will no longer have 1970's-fabulous cabinets and drawers that fall out on your feet when you open them.

What hasn't suffered is our school time!  (Pats self on back.)  I have taken tons of pictures but haven't had time to do anything with them.  My husband uploaded pictures last night so I was able to grab these and write this post. Have to go finish feeding the kids breakfast so we can head to the second countertop quoting place and then to a coop fieldtrip.