Tuesday, February 23, 2010

School Day

Every once in a while I see a post on a blog or message board asking whether or not it is appropriate to let your child take their favorite stuffed animal to "school" when school is at home. The photos in today's "school day" post will make it pretty clear where I come down on that argument.

Me Too's "Doggy" and Kal-El's "Bobo" were both in attendance today. They are not disruptive to our school time in any way. They are simply just "there" like they are throughout the rest of our day. I see this as one of the benefits of home education. School time is a part of the boys' day like any other activity and I see no reason to arbitrarily exclude their "loveys." If the boys were going to school outside the home I would not let them bring their stuffed animals. We have a rule that the loveys don't leave the house except for overnight stays. If I were running a Montessori school I would not want loveys brought to school. At home they are a normal part of life. At a school away from home they would be unusual and a disruption.

Today Me Too began his day with some pre-sensorial works while Kal-El worked with the moveable alphabet. He spelled words that I suggested from a list and then spelled words based on a box I made of pink series pictures.

Once the moveable alphabet was put away, Kal-El asked to get Bobo so he could show him the "G" basket.

Bobo watched while Kal-El traced the sandpaper letter and drew the letter in the sand tray.

Kal-El showed Bobo all of the "G" objects in the object box and read the "G" sound book. The object box contained: garlic, glasses, gumdrop, gift, goose, goat, gorilla, globe, grapes, grasshopper, golf club, gourd, guitar, and a ghost. He also showed Bobo where Antarctica is on the miniature globe and explained that it is a globe of the Earth.

After he read the sound card in the bin to Bobo he realized that he had objects to match all of the pictures. So, he matched them up.

Next, he went through the envelope containing pictures of things that start with "G." There was some new vocabulary...garlic and gear. Afterwards, he showed all of the pictures to Bobo.

While Kal-El and Bobo were busy doing all of this, Me Too was occupied with a transfer activity.

As you can see, it was pretty exciting.

Me Too's "Doggy" is somewhere in the room at this time but, as you can see, not involved first-hand in the activities (yet). The "teaching" Kal-El felt motivated to do with Bobo doesn't happen very often. When it does, I feel it is beneficial.

Kal-El used Bobo's little paw to put the markers on the appropriate pictures in this activity.

Here you can see him using Bobo's paw to place the HWT wood pieces on the letter forms.

After Kal-El finished the "G" bin, he entered his period of "false fatigue." This generally means that Me Too had to experience "false fatigue" as well. For about five minutes both boys fooled around with the treadmill. Kal-El asked me to take a picture of Bobo "exercising."

After watching two boys hop on and off of a treadmill repeated announcing "I exercising" (Me Too) for several minutes, one might be tempted to call it quits for the day. However, this is normal for us about 1.5 hours into "school time." I usually don't take pictures and skip it when I blog, but thought I would throw it in there since I was just talking about it. I basically ignored them and they soon were tired of this.

Kal-El pulled out the Antarctica box and Me Too took the geometric solids and pictures off of the shelf. In the interest of "doing everything Kal-El does," Me Too got Doggy to help him do this activity.

I saw that Me Too was having his usual problem with his rug (He insists on sitting on it. Then there is no room for his materials. He then proceeds to surround himself with the materials wherever he can find space, loses awareness of where everything is, and sits on something). Rather than make a trip to the proctologist to have a triangular-based pyramid removed, I instituted a new rug policy for him. He does not like to use the larger rugs because he has trouble rolling and carrying them himself. So, as an alternative he is going to use two of the smaller rugs. This worked much better.

Me Too invited Kal-El to work on the geometric cabinet and cards with him. The two of them invented a new way to use the cards. Instead of matching the shape to the card they matched they inset to the card and slipped the card underneath so that only the blue showed through. The last step was putting the shapes back in their insets.

I'm sure this isn't new to anyone who teaches a classroom full of kids year after year, but it was new to us. It is also a good example of how we don't always need to "show" the kids extensions of every material. If you let them do their own work they will find many interesting (and appropriate) extensions on their own. It is important that they not become reliant on the teacher or parent to show them everything there is to know about a material, but rather be allowed to discover these relationships for themselves.

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  1. I have to comment that Me Too is sooo cute! I just love his hair! Are the kids 5 and 3 now?
    Also, AWESOME works! I hope to one day be as organized as you!!

  2. Great day I so love seeing these days in action posts. I quite liked your G Box, is there a particular reason why you chose to have everything for the focus letter all together in one container?

    Also I am assuming you are doing this with all letters, are you doing the standard letter of the week type program?

  3. Gigi,

    LOL! I have had to cancel Me Too's last THREE haircut appointments. He hasn't had a haircut since Thanksgiving. We go for the "surfer" look on him, but this is a little over the top.

    He keeps getting mad at Kal-El because Kal-El keeps pushing his hair out of the way so he can "look at things." Kal-El thinks he can't see anymore through the hair.

    They are 4 and 2. Kal-El just turned four in Dec. Me Too won't be three until June.

    You will be!

  4. Hey Kylie,

    I posted about the sound bins originally here:


    We are not doing a letter of the week program. These are all sound analysis activities that go in tandem with sandpaper letter work.

    I had most of these activities out on shelf separately originally. When I decided to commit to using Karen Tyler's language album I assembled them into a bin per her instructions. I talk about what is all in there and what I added in the post I linked to. I still need to add some things to the bin because I believe there should be ending and middle sound activities in them as well.

    They were originally intended for Me Too. There is one on the shelf for each sandpaper letter Me Too has been introduced to. Kal-El is so interested in them I added some of his activities to them as well.

    Having them in one container has surprising benefits. For some reason both boys find it much more interesting to have a basket of activities to dig through. They also do MORE practice at one time. They seem to see doing "everything in the basket" as a challenge and sit down and do EVERY activity. Whereas before, they might do one activity off the language shelf and then wander over to practical life. They are also, as you could see today, making deeper connections among the materials. Probably because having them in one basket implies that they ARE all connected.

    I have all the materials for all of the letters on hand, I am only assembling bins as I need them though. I will eventually have to put a limit on how many are out at one time.

    I don't know if it will stay this fascinating, it may have been the "change" that sparked their interest. That's fine, if they lose interest I'll change it back to the other way again and do that until they need something new and change it back again :)

  5. Oh thank you MBT I must of missed that post. Will go back and read now. I thought the same thing when I saw it, it looks so interesting to 'rummage' thorugh the container and you could spice it up by adding in some surprise elements from time to time.

    Plus you can fit so much more on the shelves. I think I will look at doing mine like this as well.

    Thanks again

  6. Oh that post on the sound bins is very helpful. I am starting on mine straight away. You mentioned in that post that your son knew his letters at 2, were using Montessori then? I was just curious as to how you went about it. My tot is 19 months and I was wondering if I should start some letter work with him.

  7. Kylie,

    That was before I knew about Montessori. I didn't teach them to him on purpose, we had a letter puzzle and some magnet letters and I just answered his questions as he played with them a lot. He was obsessed with letters. It was totally child-led and an accident.

  8. Funny how these things happen isn't it!

  9. You are doing such a phenomenal job. I'm INSPIRED!!

    Do you need some hair cutting tips? I've actually become quite good. *cough* *cough*. I haven't nipped anyone's ear in AT LEAST a year. :)

  10. Jen,

    Ummm, no thanks...I've SEEN PICTURES of what you've done to your kids hair. They are lucky they are so darn cute to begin with, it didn't matter. I was inspired by YOU to cut the boys hair myself for a while and have recently been fired from that job.

    Thanks for the props! Loved the pix of Charlie and the kids with the sticks today, such a totally classic kid activity.

  11. Hi MBT!!!

    It was a Great day!! love the G box too!! I can see you don't have any problem with more than one work out of the shelf... I'm too strong??? I'm usually told my princess that she just have to take one at the time...

    Also, I have to say that I have to go back and study the letter box post!!
    Thank you!!

  12. Hi Karen,

    I am not sure I understand precisely what you mean. I'll answer your question two ways to make sure I cover my bases.

    All the "G" works are in one basket that comes off the shelf at once. As he completed each work in the basket he sort of left them on display on the rug (not very neatly this time). We had the sandpaper letter and sand tray out AT THE SAME TIME, yes. However, I taught him that those are "part of" the letter basket work. If you remember some of our geography posts, you might remember we do a other works that way too. When we take out a continent box we also take out a world map, continent map, pin map and globe. We make quite a mess.

    I think this is different than taking a work of the shelf, finishing with it, and taking another work off the shelf without putting it back.

    If your sharp eyes caught the necklace tray out in the background while Me Too worked with the geometric solids, there is an explanation for that. He said it was "broken" (I forgot to take apart the necklaces they did the day before) and he left it out on the floor with instructions for me to "fix it."

    I do not let them take works out, abandon them, and take out something else. I do encourage them to use materials in tandem when it is appropriate.

    I don't know which you mean, so I can't say whether you are being "too strict." However, I read you blog and it looks to me like you are doing an excellent job :)

  13. Can I ask you where you took the geometric solid cards from? I am looking for something similar.

  14. Petithappiness,

    Boy, is that a can of worms! I made mine and it was VERY time consuming. Also, it cost the same amount to make them as it would have to buy them. If I had purchased them (www.adenamontessori.us) I would have saved hours and hours of labor.

    However, I had to make some of mine twice (to add insult to injury). Free files are available for download at the Yahoo group "Montessori Makers." The sizes of about 1/3 of the cards did not match my cards. So, I had to trace them onto blue paper, glue them to white squares, cut, laminate, and cut again. I worry that if I purchased cards that they would not match either.

    If I had to do it over, I would buy them, return them if they didn't match, and trace my own insets from the start to make the cards.

    Good luck!