Thursday, February 4, 2010

School Day

I would like to share some pictures today from one of our great school sessions this week. On this particular day we worked for only about two hours because we started later than we should have and I made them stop for lunch and naps.

One of the things I wonder about with Montessori homeschooling is the lack of 25 other kids to team up with when the urge strikes. We are a little limited by our numbers, but you will be able to see that there are a couple activities that show that the boys are really becoming a team of two. In Montessori there is only one of each activity on the shelf to teach that anything worth doing is worth waiting for (to put it simply). However, there are a two things in our classroom at this point that I put out "two of."

The boys still enjoy "opening and closing containers." It's an activity that is really out for Me Too. However, lately they insist on doing this first each day and they insist on doing it together. Perhaps this is because it is really cold in there and this activity is stored right by the fireplace.

I only have "one" activity put out, but I have been hiding two matching surprises in each container. The point is to reinforce sharing and, for Kal-El, allowing his younger brother to do his own work and make his own discoveries. I taught them that they may each take only one of the surprises out of each container and must close it again rather than just hand the other surprise to their brother. This is also good for their memory and they have surprised me with the cognizance of precisely which containers they had and had not opened (the surprises are often the same from container to container).

Today's surprise happened to be bunny crackers (it's not usually food, it's usually something interesting to touch or examine).

Another thing they like to do together is work with scissors. I have one tray set out which holds two pair of scissors, many cutting strips, and two baskets for the trimmings.

A recently viewed Homfray video renewed my resolve to only give the boys tools if they can use them properly. I took the above photo before I went into serious crackdown mode on how Kal-El was holding his scissors. Today marks a major breakthrough because instead of "suggesting" and "demonstrating" I corrected his grip repeatedly and kept reminding until he actually got used to it for once and realized how much easier he could cut holding the scissors properly.

Me Too learned to do it correctly as well.

After he finished cutting, Kal-El noticed the new "living vs. non-living" activities on the culture shelves. The first activity had a basket of objects representing living and non-living things. I explained the difference between living and non-living and pointed out that he could distinguish the living versus non-living labels according to their initial sounds.

He had no trouble identifying "non-living" things. I think he was a little hung up on the fact that all the objects were pretend because he identified all the "living" things as "non-living" as well. Even when we asked the questions together.

Me: Does it grow?
Kal-El: Yes!
Me: Does it eat?
Kal-El: Yes!
Me: Does it have babies someday?
Kal-El: Yes!
Me: Is it living or non-living?
Kal-El: NON-living!!!
Me: ?????

He continued on to do the activity with labels and pictures rather than objects.

By this time he had caught on to the fact that if it was a plant or animal it was living. Also, this activity was self-correcting (dots on the back) so he could check his own work.

I plan to get a book or two on this topic from the library tomorrow and clarify the situation by pointing some actual living things versus non-living things in his environment (which I should have done first).

Me Too was still cutting slips of paper so Kal-El asked for some "big paper" to cut sailboat sails from and joined him again for a while. When he was done he decided to draw "the continent where the sailboat would visit" on the sails. He drew Antarctica.

Check out that pencil grip! Since he was receptive with the scissors I was persistent about pencil holding today. He was very enthused but needs help. Each time he picked up his pencil anew he asked me to "put his fingers in the tripod."

Here is a photo of the Antarctica sail he drew as pictured above...from memory, not looking at a puzzle piece or globe, and in the air (not even writing on a table). He did really well.

The bottom curve of the continent photographed frustratingly faintly. The he drew the two crossed lines through the middle to show the point where the South Pole is.

This spontanous activity on his part was a perfect segue into showing him the new Antarctica box I put out.

First he explored the sandpaper continent I pin-punched for the top.

Afterward we spent an hour going through the box together. We didn't finish because, as I said, I stopped us for lunch.

He learned about four types of penguins and matched miniature penguins to photographs. He also matched a little Antarctica flag to a photo of the flag.

He asked me to read him a little book I made about the eight types of transportation available in Antarctica.

Next, he asked me to read him a booklet I made about "living in Antarctica." When we got to the part about what they wear in Antarctica we took out the paper doll that we received in our continent box exchange and dressed the doll.

Then we talked about whales and matched miniature whales to photographs of whales.

I would like to do this same activity with seals. Does anyone know where I can find a selection of miniature seals?

I brought out our "pin map" for the first time and he showed me where he should place the Antarctica flag that was in the box.

He really enjoyed the Scott Base dog tags we received in the exchange.

I have been doing some work on a post that will show precisely what is in our Antarctica box for those of you making your own. Maybe over the weekend?

Me Too joined us for portions of the box that interested him. He was very enthralled with the penguins and whales. There was a bit of a fight about them actually. Otherwise he was busy making necklaces.

At one point I checked on him and he was "working on" sorting these snowflakes. This has to be one of the least-successful sorts ever. There are small and large silver snowflakes. There are small and large white snowflakes. These are neither sorted by size or color.

It wasn't a total loss. He kept popping over and either asking me questions about the snowflakes or telling me something about the snowflakes. So, we worked on describing them as fully as possible. By the end he was reporting whether he was holding a "beautiful, large, silver snowflake" or a "pretty, small, white snowflake."

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  1. The pic of the boys sitting next to each other is so sweet and the smile is too precious! Very impressive - pic of Antarctica and all that he knows!

  2. Can you tell us how/if you made your pin map?

    I'd also love to see your felt map. What do you use it for? I have all the wooden maps, just wondering if a felt map would be useful too.

  3. Thanks Min :)

    Sheryll: You can look at an example of a felt map and one possible use here:

    The "pin map" is a wooden one from i-fit Montessori.

  4. So cool to see the Antartica stuff I sent you being used! It made my day to open your blog and see my contribution (the paper doll and dog tags).
    I hope the rest of the items are getting some use too. :-)

  5. Chaucey,

    They sure are...THANK YOU! I hope Africa will get some use down your way! I am partway through a big post about everything you sent, so stay tuned :)

  6. I just watched the same Homfrey video about pencil grip and I am trying to remember to monitor a little fellow I have in my class with pencil & scissor issues. Thanks for the "heads up" about monitoring & correcting more closely his scissor grip.

  7. Just wanted to let you know that I put up a Language post on Montgomery Academy. I put my new Language materials around the same time that you posted about your Sound Boxes. I use the same ideas for my Sound Boxes, but use materials from KidSoup. It took me a month or so to get my picture taken and the post up. My preschoolers are loving it so far, and it has led to a renewed interest in the language area, including reading and writing.

  8. Looks like a fabulous work period and it's nice to see siblings working so well together throughout the day.