Confession time. I am up for an award, "Slacker Montessori Mom of the Year." The one week the school room was supposed to be closed for "reorganization" turned into three. We had our first day back in today.
There is a lot of good that came of it. For example, the furniture is reorganized, the materials are reorganized, and I vacuumed up about 100 creepy spiders that moved in over the summer. I am much, much closer to being up-to-date on having all the materials needed to get through the next several months (I am still procrastinating on geography). Me Too has started in on the "official" Montessori sequence of materials. I also completely emptied my supply closet, organized it by subject, and made an inventory list.
As always, I put out too much for the first day. The good news is that the boys seemed to be used to me doing that and only chose about 1/3 of the things I put out.
Me Too started with cylinder block three. I put in new shelves for our larger sensorial materials. I think it made a big difference that Me Too could really see the cylinder blocks on the new shelf. They fit in the old shoe shelves just fine, but were difficult to see. You can see from this photo that he had trouble with the task at first.
Kal-El zeroed in on a new practical life work. We have a learn-to-dress doll with removable clothes. I filled a basket with the clothes, a bucket of simple clothespins, and a clothesline with beads on the end (thank you Chasing Cheerios!).
The sequence of work was as follows:
- hang the clothesline
- hang the clothes "to dry" on the clothesline
- remove the clothes from the line and return them to the basket
- return the clothesline to the basket
- dress "Jake" so he can go to the skate park
- undress "Jake" so he can return to the shelf
Future extensions I have planned include:
- increasing the difficulty of the clothespins (first to mini-clothespins, then to regular)
- eventually washing the clothes in some Woolite and really hanging them to dry
- eventually folding the clothes when we return them to the basket).
I plan to hide some coins to Jake's pockets tonight to encourage Kal-El to do the buttons on the pockets. If you are in the market for a learn-to-dress doll I will warn you that at 3.5 this is a very challenging task for Kal-El. Jake is not particularly easy to dress.
Me Too spent a lot of time hammering while Kal-El and I were dressing and undressing Jake. This activity has been rotated on and off of his shelves for a year. Today was the first time he actually hammered any of the pegs all the way through. (Usually he just bangs on them with no apparent goal in mind.) Once he realized he could do it he proceeded to do all of the pegs. It turns out he knows all of his colors. I didn't realize this until he shouted "I did the [insert color] one!" in between each peg.
Kal-El gave Me Too a presentation on pouring dry beans. He did a decent job of presenting too!
Pouring was by far Me Too's favorite activity ever. He was soooo proud. He liked to say "two hands" in-between every pour. He said "oh no! What happened?" whenever he would spill. And then, "I clean it up!"
I couldn't begin to tell you how many times he repeated this activity. It was nearly enough times for Kal-El to do all of his language work while he was at it.
Last year Kal-El learned all of the basic phonetic sounds of the letters in the alphabet. He also did all of the sandpaper letters (capital), beginning sound sorts, and capital/lowercase matching. The motions of the sandpaper letters didn't really seem to sink in. I have decided to start this Fall by greatly extending his sandpaper letter work a la My Montessori Journey.
First I demonstrated tracing one of today's sandpaper letters three times. Then Kal-El tried it. If he did it incorrectly I showed him again and had him try it again. Next I introduced the salt tray and he made the letter in salt. He worked with the salt tray for a while, choosing different sandpaper letters and trying to trace them in salt.
I need to spend some time on this with him without Me Too around to distract us. Kal-El needs a lot of re-demonstration right now. He is right-handed and tends to pick up the sandpaper letter with his right hand and therefore start tracing with his left. Then he switches to the salt tray and traces with his right and somehow draws the letter backwards. As long as I quietly say "other hand" when he gets off track he seems fine and all the letters come out forwards.
We reinforced the order of the strokes with our "Handwriting Without Tears" materials. He was able to do this independently and even put the pieces together in the right order (they are numbered on the cards)
Unfortunately, I thought until yesterday that I had both uppercase and lowercase H.W.T. pieces/cards and I just have uppercase. It will be a couple of days before the lowercase arrive.
Next, Kal-El matched the uppercase and lowercase sandpaper letters on his mat.
Finally he did most of a sound sort using objects instead of pictures for the first time (in ages). We had the same old problem we have always had. Halfway through the sound sort Kal-El decided to play with the objects instead. I told him he had to complete the task before he could make up stories. He chose to put the material away instead.
While all this was going on Me Too worked with the pink tower (unsuccessfully) and then with a jars and lids activity that was brand new to him. He found it very challenging.
I also made a sound book for Kal-El to paste sandpaper letters into after he learned each of them. However, because we are doing both lower and uppercase together I had too many letters out today. Combine that with how much I had overestimated his tracing skills. As a result, I decided to simplify to one letter a day and paste them in starting tomorrow. After he has done eight letters we will start word drawers (from My Montessori Journey).
Speaking of putting out too many things. I put out too many sandpaper numbers (1-9). He already can identify all the numbers on sight and has been tracing them with his finger in a book we read at night that has giraffes bent into number shapes. I thought he would breeze through. However, after all that intense sandpaper letters work he put the numbers away right after number one.
Me Too and I worked together on the pink tower (I presented it correctly several times) and made some moderate progress. Then I presented a sorting activity with apples and pumpkins that I didn't get a picture of. He also did the presentation tray of the geometric cabinet and did the trapezoid drawer like a puzzle (independently, I didn't notice he was doing it until I looked up from the red rods I was watching Kal-El do).
The red rods that were so unsuccessful three months ago went very smoothly today. It was tricky because he chose the yoga mat for his second mat. It is sticky which made it difficult to slide the rods into position.
After building it the traditional way, Kal-El invented his own extension.
Believe it or not, some of these activities were chosen multiple times. There are also some things I can't remember and am leaving out. We worked for exactly three hours on the button. A solid Montessori 3-hour work period! Doubly amazing because we have no clock in the school room and I didn't know how long we were in there until we walked out.
As we left Kal-El said "I love you teacher!" I said "I love you student!" Then, of course, Me Too said "I love you teacher..." reminding me that we do call him "Me Too" for a good reason.